LAS VEGAS -- A look at top performers from the 12th day of action at the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League:
Henry Ellenson, Detroit Pistons
Ellenson was the best player on the floor in the Pistons’ 72-66 win over the Chicago Bulls, and that includes Bulls first-round picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchinson. Ellenson showed off his improved ball-handling skills and outside stroke, finishing with 21 points and five rebounds, leading the Pistons in scoring. At 6-11 and 245 pounds, he’ll give new Pistons coach Dwane Casey a floor-stretching option this season that the Pistons lacked in Stan Van Gundy’s final season at the helm. Ellenson played in 38 regular season games, averaging 8.7 minutes, 4.0 points and 2.1 rebounds. But he finished the regular season with four straight double-digit scoring games, including a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) in the Pistons’ April 11 win over the Bulls in the season finale.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers
Sexton continues to live up to his “Young Bull” nickname during Summer League. He’s shown no signs of apprehension on the floor and has had no problem getting shots up with that being his glaring deficiency at this extremely early stage of his career. He shot just 5-for-17 from the floor but still managed to pace the Cavaliers in scoring (tying for team-high honors with Scoochie Smith) with 17 in their 92-87 defeat of the Houston Rockets. Sexton added six rebounds, three assists and two steals while showing off the sort of command of the floor that the Cavaliers will need from him when he hits training camp in a few months. It remains unclear what role Sexton will play with the veterans in the mix, but it’ll be significant.
Rawle Alkins, Toronto Raptors
The rookie guard from Arizona outperformed fellow Hornets rookie Miles Bridges (highlights galore among his 18 points and 11 rebounds) and second-year forward Dwyane Bacon (game-high 28 points), knocking down a huge 3-pointer in overtime to give the Toronto Raptors an 87-84 overtime win that puts the Raptors into a quarterfinal matchup against Cleveland.
Alkins did his damage inside and out, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds while showing off an ability to play on and off the ball, something that wasn’t evident from his time in college at Arizona. Atkins went undrafted last month but you wouldn’t know it based on the way he’s played during Summer League. The Raptors have a roster loaded with young talent but Alkins has certainly given them a reason to make sure he has spot on their training camp roster.
Pierra Henry, Boston Celtics
Second-year forward Geurschon Yabusele turned in a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double to help power the Celtics past the Miami Heat 74-72 and into the quarterfinals, but it was rookie shooting guard Pierra Henry who led a deep Celtics team with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, showing off his length and athleticism at just the right time. The Celtics already have a deep and talented veteran roster, so someone not already under contract making noise on the Summer League roster might not seem as significant for them as it would elsewhere. But as every player in Henry’s predicament knows, you’re playing for more than just the team name splashed across your chest during Summer League. You’re auditioning for basketball’s global community with every minute played.
Christian Wood, Milwaukee Bucks
Wood’s love for the rims at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion remain from his college days playing for the UNLV Running Rebels. Well, that’s one way of explaining his dominance, even in defeat (91-89 to the Philadelphia 76ers), during Summer League action. Wood worked the Sixers for 27 points (on 10-for-15 shooting), 12 rebounds and five blocks. Wood made just one of his three attempts from beyond the 3-point line and made six of his nine shots from the free throw line in an otherwise dominant performance. Wood averaged 23.3 points and 10.4 rebounds for Delaware last season in the G-League. His performance this summer suggests he’s headed for that and perhaps more during the 2018-19 season.