15 players to watch in the NBA 2K23 Summer League

Get ready for action in Las Vegas this week with a look at some key players to follow.

Summer League: Lists | Schedule | Full coverage

To note: Players listed in alphabetical order by first name

1. Brandon Boston, Los Angeles Clippers

• First game | July 9: Clippers vs. Grizzlies (9:30 a.m. ET, NBA TV)

Last season, the LA Clippers reaped the rewards of a second-round robbery at Brandon Boston. The former Kentucky Wildcat exceeded expectations by playing an important role off the bench. Boston has seen time in the G League, but the majority of its play was in the NBA regular season. The 20-year-old averaged 6.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 51 appearances, totaling a season-high 27 points in a win over the Celtics. While the Clippers are arguably championship contenders, Boston could take a huge jump in the rotation if they have a memorable Summer League.

2. Benoit Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

• First game | July 8: Hornets vs. Pacers (6 ET, NBA TV)

Indiana has been trying to fill the shooting void since the departure of Victor Oladipo. The Pacers selected Benedict Mathurin with the No. 6 pick, hoping he can be the leading scorer he was in Arizona. Mathurin earned Pac-12 Player of the Year and consensus All-America second-team honors, averaging 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. The 20-year-old showed incredible versatility with his overhand jump shot, impressive speed and ability to create. Benedict will make his Summer League debut playing alongside 2021 rookies Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson.

3. Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons

• First game | July 8: Trail Blazers vs. Pistons (12 ET, ESPN)

The No. 1 overall pick in 2021, Cade Cunningham will return to the Summer League after finishing second-in the Rookie of the Year vote. Despite their record, the young Detroit Pistons – led by Cunningham – showed flashes of potential last season. Cunningham was arguably the best rookie statistically, while carrying a bigger load than others in his rookie class. Most sophomores of Cunningham’s caliber skip a second stint in the Summer League, but the nascent guard is determined to make this Pistons team a playoff contender.

4. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

• First game | July 9: Thunder vs. Rockets (8 ET, ESPN 2)

Prior to last season, mock drafts listed Chet Holmgren as a clear No. 1 overall pick. Holmgren was the centerpiece of Gonzaga’s Elite Eight tournament. He averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per night, earning him WCC Defensive Player of the Year and Second-Team All-America honors. Holmgren is tall at 7ft, with a wingspan of 7ft 5.25, and his overall feel for the game complements his soft shooter touch. The Thunder will partner Holmgren with the young core of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey this season, but fans will get an early look at the 20-year-old rookie this summer.

5. Dyson Daniels, New Orleans Pelicans

• First game | July 9: Pelicans vs. Trail Blazers (10 ET, ESPN 2)

The No. 8 overall pick, Dyson Daniels was the highest-drafted player in the G League Ignite in the 2022 NBA draft. Global Academy to graduate from the G League Ignite. Throughout his tenure under Ignite head coach Jason Hart, Dyson filled the stat sheet, averaging 12 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and two steals per game. Despite his proven all-around skills, Daniels was drafted in to fill the void in the Pelicans’ perimeter defense and size.

6. Jabari Smith, Houston Rockets

• First game | July 7: Rockets vs. Magic (10 ET, ESPN)

Las Vegas was shocked when Auburn standout Jabari Smith dropped to No. 3 on draft night. Now he’s heading there and he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder. The Rockets rookie earned National Rookie of the Year and Consensus Second-Team All-American honors, averaging 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 42% in beyond the arc. Standing 6ft 10in, Smith is the perfect size for a power forward but separates himself with an array of perimeter skills such as creating shots, dribbling and 3-point shooting. The Georgia native has proven he’s not afraid of the big stage and should make an immediate impact for the Rockets.

7. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons

• First game | July 8: Pistons vs. Trail Blazers (12 ET, ESPN)

Jaden Ivey is arguably the most electric guard to come out of the 2022 NBA Draft. The Detroit Pistons selected Ivey with the No. 5 overall pick for his emphatic drive, scoring ability and explosiveness. The Purdue standout could have opted for the 2021 draft after a breakthrough first year, but decided to stay for his second season. Ivey averaged 17.3 points and 3.1 assists per game that season while earning Consensus Second-Team All-America honors. Pistons fans will get a taste of what to expect as Ivey and 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham take the field together for the first time in the Summer League.

8. Jaden Hardy, Dallas Mavericks

• First game | July 8: Mavericks vs. Bulls (4 ET, ESPNU)

Despite falling in the second round on draft night, Jaden Hardy proved to be a special talent. The 19-year-old goalkeeper played an important role right graduated from high school choosing to play for the G League Ignite. Its impact was immediate, on average 19.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the 2021-22 G League season. A skilful planner, Hardy fits in well with the The Mavericks’ win-now mentality, which should be the perfect setting for a player of his caliber.

9. James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

• First game | July 8: Warriors vs. Knicks (8 ET, ESPN2)

The Warriors won the 2022 NBA title without their 2020 lottery pick James Wiseman. And despite winning four championships over the past decade, Golden State still doesn’t have a consistent big man. Prior to his injury, the former No. 2 pick showed flashes of stardom during his rookie season, averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. Wiseman was sidelined for the entire 2021-22 regular season and part of his rehab process included spending time with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G League affiliate. During his 3 game stint, Wiseman put up double-digit scores while grabbing at least six rebounds in every fight. His breakthrough performance came against the G League Ignite, where he racked up 19 points and 14 rebounds. In addition to Wiseman, the Warriors’ Summer League roster includes 2022 first-round pick Patrick Baldwin Jr. and rising star Moses Moody.

10. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

• First game | July 9: Magic vs Kings (4 ET, ESPNU)

The Kings’ No. 4 pick Keegan Murray took a significant leap from the projected fictional drafts. The Iowa star tripled his production since his freshman year, averaging 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in his sophomore season while leading the nation in points per possession and winning Consensus First Team All-America honors. Although Murray, a 6-foot-9 striker, isn’t the most beautiful scorer, his brave style and ability to exploit the gaps will get him points. Murray showed his fluency as a scorer in his California Classic Summer League debut by scorching the Miami Heat for 27 points. Be on the lookout for more flashes from Murray as the Summer League progresses.

11. Malaki Branham, San Antonio Spurs

• First game | July 8: Spurs vs Cavaliers (5 ET, NBATV)

San Antonio’s newest pickup, Malaki Branham, can hit the kill switch at any time. Branham exploded in the second half of his freshman season at Ohio State, averaging 20.2 points over his last 10 games. The first-round pick earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors while helping his team get into the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The Spurs are currently in rebuilding mode, and Branham is part of the new wave of potential entering San Antonio. The incoming rookie class of Branham, Jermey Sochan and Blake Wesley will be fun to watch in Las Vegas.

12. Patrick Baldwin Jr., Golden State Warriors

• First game | July 8: Warriors vs. Knicks (8 ET, ESPN2)

Most first-round picks aren’t considered dormant, but that’s not the case with pick No. 28 Patrick Baldwin Jr. The former McDonald’s All-American once played alongside lottery picks Jaden Ivey and Chet Holmgren at the FIBA ​​U19 Basketball World Cup 2021. After being ranked the fifth-best prospect out of high school, many were surprised to see Baldwin Jr. commit to a mid-major, the University of Milwaukee. Following a disappointing freshman year, Baldwin Jr. dropped significantly in the false drafts. At 6-foot-10, Baldwin is a good size for a forward and can space the ground with his strong grips and jump shot. Look for him alongside the young Warriors core of Moses Moody and James Wiseman in this year’s Summer League.

13. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

• First game | July 7: Rockets vs. Magic (10 ET, ESPN)

The fake drafts were in shambles after the Magic selected Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick. The Duke star led his team to a Final Four appearance averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists.. Standing at 6-foot-10 with a 250-pound frame, Banchero has the build and physical tools to be a dominant force in the NBA. His transition from being the No. 1 option at Duke to sharing the floor with NBA talent will be worth watching.

14. Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers

• First game | July 8: Pistons vs. Trail Blazers (12 ET, NBA TV)

Sharpe is one of the biggest mysteries of the 2022 draft due to the fact that he gave up his reclassified freshman year at Kentucky. Despite not playing a single college game, the Portland lottery pick showed some serious flashes during his high school career, averaging 22.6 points on the Nike EYBL Tour. Standing 6 feet 5 inchesSharpe is the perfect size for a shooting guard to go along with an impressive mix of fluidity and jumping ability.

15. Sharife Cooper, Atlanta Hawks

• First game | July 9: Hawks vs. Jazz (7:30 a.m. ET, NBA TV)

After being drafted by a playoff team full of guards, the 2021 second-round pick has yet to get a chance to show off his skills in Atlanta. Cooper spent the majority of his rookie season developing with the College Park Skyhawks while receiving a few call-ups throughout the season. Considered one of the best guards in the G League last season, the 21-year-old guard averaged 17.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists with the Skyhawks. Expect to see this sophomore prospect jump into this year’s Summer League.

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