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Who are the best players in NBA Summer League history?

The NBA Summer League has seen it’s fair share of superstars rise through the ranks, and this years Summer Leaguers will be hoping for a similar future.

The NBA Summer League has seen it’s fair share of superstars rise through the ranks, and this years Summer Leaguers will be hoping for a similar future.
Mark J. RebilasUSA Today Sports

The 2023 NBA Summer League runs from 7-17 July and all eyes are on it. There is, as usual, some heated competition for MVP, and players have a chance to shine under the summertime lights. There have been some big stars that passed through the Summer League over the years who then went on to have fantastic careers in the NBA.

Summer League success can lead to NBA stardom

It’s not always the case, but many times the Summer League can be a stepping stone to superstardom. That’s what the guys lacing up their sneaker in this summer hoops showcase will be hoping.

For many players, the Summer League is a chance to put yourself on the map as the new season inches closer. Rookies and sophomores alike have a chance to shine on the national stage. For second and third year players, the Summer League allows players who were on the fringe last year game time they may not have had in regular season.

For rookies, it give coaches, and fans a first glimpse of how the upcoming class will adapt in the league. Last year we saw Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren shine early. First draft pick Victor Wembanyama has been getting a lot of attention this year.

While they didn’t disappoint, they will be a long shot to win MVP at this edition of Summer League.

Anthony Morrow

Morrow played two seasons in the Summer League, one with the Miami Heat and one with the Golden State. Over those two summers, Morrow averaged 17 points and 3.7 rebounds. While those aren’t terrible numbers, they aren’t worthy of being on the top Summer League players ever. What gets Morrow on this list is his 47 point performance he had in 2009. He shot 61% from down town in his two campaigns, and went on to have a successful nine year career in the NBA but Morrow will alway be known as a Summer League superstar.

Lonzo Ball

There was a lot of attention surrounding Lonzo Ball in his rookie campaign. Much of that attention was drawn from his father, LaVar. While LaVar might not have been the most love figure, his son Lonzo did nothing but make people fall in love with his game from the get go. He played six summer league games, and averaged 16 points, 7.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists. Flirting with a triple double in his first taste of NBA action earned him MVP honors in the 2017 Summer League. He is still searching for that form in the league, but is growing into a star in Chicago.

Donovan Mitchell

Is a top scorer in the NBA, but it was his defense that set him apart in the 2017 Summer League. He averaged 20 points a game, which was respectable for an up and coming rookie. Where he really stood out was his ability to pick pocket his opponents. He averaged six steals a game and had a record eight in one game.

Kevin Love

There was a lot of hype around Kevin Love coming out of UCLA. He was a rebounding machine that could up 20 points in any given game in college, so there was a lot of anticipation to see if that would translate at the next level. In his first taste of NBA action he was a double double machine. He didn’t win the MVP of the Summer League that year, but his 18 points and 13.5 rebounds were a good indication of what was to come in his NBA career.

Damian Lillard

Dame Dollar preceded his Rookie of the Year campaign with a fantastic showing in the NBA Summer League. He played just four games, but that was all the Trail Blazers needed to see to know they made the right choice in the 2012 Draft. He won the MVP of the Summer league, averaging 26.5 points and five assists.