The NBA’s Summer League is where fans and teams alike can get a first glance at their draft hauls and other promising young players in the franchise system. This year, because of the delayed NBA season start, the draft was moved to late July and the Summer League started about ten days after that.
Held in Las Vegas on the campus of UNLV, all 30 teams across the league participate in this nine-day basketball bonanza, playing about five games each. The rosters are made up of mostly rookies, with some veterans and other young players who have spent time overseas, now vying to make an NBA team.
Three former UConn Men’s Basketball stars found themselves on Summer League rosters this season. Here’s how they fared.
Jalen Adams, PG/SG
UConn career stats (4 years): 13.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists
2021 Summer league Team: Toronto Raptors
2021 Summer League stats: 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Adams came off the bench for the Raptors this summer, playing second-fiddle to former San Diego State star Malachi Flynn and Louisville point guard David Johnson. The Raptors' 4th overall pick this past year, Scottie Barnes, also handles the ball quite often, leaving even fewer opportunities for Adams to show why he belongs on an NBA team, as he averaged only 17.3 minutes per game.
Adams has had an interesting professional basketball career to date, going undrafted in 2019 and then playing on the New Orleans Pelicans Summer League team. After that, he was waived and ended up on their G league affiliate team, the Erie BayHawks, averaging an impressive 19 points and 4 assists.
A player that will always be near and dear to UConn faithful, Adams was a longshot to make the Raptors final roster, and while he didn’t accomplish that feat, he did ink a deal with Hapoel Jerusalem of the Israeli Basketball league for the upcoming season.
Amida Brimah, PF
UConn career stats (4 years): 6.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 64% field goals
2021 Summer League team: Indiana Pacers
2021 Summer League stats: 1.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks
Not a very productive Summer League for Brimah, who was trying to capitalize on the momentum he had built with the Pacers organization that signed him to a two-way contract this past April. Brimah saw NBA game action for the first time in his professional career last year, playing in five games and averaging 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 5.8 minutes per contest.
A native of Ghana and a member of its national basketball team, Brimah has basically spent his entire career in the G League thus far, having done two stints with the Austin Spurs (San Antonio Spurs affiliate) and one with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers affiliate). Unfortunately, his NBA future just became a bit more muddled, as the Pacers waived him in favor of former Houston guard DeJon Jarreau, who they signed to a two-way contract.
Brimah is currently a free agent.
James Bouknight, SG
UConn career stats (2 years): 15.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Summer League Team: Charlotte Hornets
Summer League Stats: 16.8 points, 3.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds
All eyes were on no. 11 overall pick James Bouknight to see how he would respond after sliding out of the top ten of draft picks when the majority of mocks had him going earlier. Bouknight produced, averaging 16.8 points over four games while shooting 45% from the field. He had multiple eye-popping moments during his four games, but perhaps the most impressive was this silky step-back three-pointer he nailed at the end of the half, barely beating the buzzer.
Everyone knew Bouknight could fill it up in the scoring column, so the fact that he was efficient and productive in this facet of the game was no surprise. What stood out the most about Bouknight’s summer league performance were his assist numbers. Coming out of UConn, Bouknight was an above-average rebounder for a guard, but came with concerns about one-dimensionality.
Many scouts pointed to his 1.5 assists per night in college as well as his 3 turnovers and knocked him for not being able to effectively make plays at the next level. He completely flipped the script during this Summer League, as Bouknight was definitely more intentional about getting his teammates involved and putting himself in good positions, consistently making the right pass that would lead to a bucket. His turnovers were still a problem, especially when Davion Mitchell was guarding him, but that’s normal for a young guard trying to do everything he can on the court.
Overall, this was a positive Summer League for Bouknight who will help lead one of the NBA’s swaggiest backcourts with LaMelo Ball next season.