2017 Summer League
Offseason moves will have immediate impact on 2017-18 Kia Rookie of the Year race
Superstar player movement could potentially impact roles of some first-year players
LAS VEGAS — The No. 1 pick was traded for the No. 3 pick three days before the Draft, so everyone should have seen the turbulence coming. We had been warned.
But still. No one could have been warned for this. The rookie class has been rocked by implications before the draft is three weeks old, with the biggest of summer leagues still in progress and with months to go before the real sorting out begins in training camp.
The fallout from shifting among veterans has been so impactful that first-year players from both teams, the original squad and the destination, are feeling reverberations in some cases. J.J. Redick may have just helped one candidate for Kia Rookie of the Year by joining the Philadelphia 76ers and hurt the chances of another — and both are on the same roster. Gordon Hayward’s move to Boston was a cannonball into the race that had barely started, so jolting that the triple-down effect touches newcomers on three clubs.
We had been warned, yes. But no one could have truly been prepared.
Transaction: Sacramento Kings sign George Hill
Rookie impact: While De’Aaron Fox will likely still open the regular season as a leading ROY contender, adding a talented veteran at point guard so soon after investing the No. 5 pick on Fox obviously reduces the minutes and immediate opportunity. Fox may be the point guard of the future, but his present dramatically changed from draft night to the opening of summer league.
Transaction: Denver Nuggets agree to deal with Paul Millsap
Rookie impact: John Collins may have just moved into the preseason top 10 for Rookie of the Year candidates. He went from 7.3 points and 54.7 percent from the field as a Wake Forest freshman in 2015-16 to 19.2 points and 62.2 percent in 2016-17. Now, he steps into a lineup with a sudden need for bigs who can contribute right away. The power forward-center was a sound pick at No. 19 no matter what. The way the world quickly changed around him could make it a great addition by new general manager Travis Schlenk.
Transaction: Philadelphia 76ers sign JJ Redick
Rookie impact: Ben Simmons’ assist numbers just went up. The Philadelphia front office knew it needed to add shooting this summer, and landing Redick, a primary free-agent target, addressed that for the team while also giving point guard Simmons another dependable scorer along with Joel Embiid.
On the other hand, Markelle Fultz’s minutes may have just gone down. The No. 1 pick from The 2017 Draft will obviously still play, but probably not as much now that Redick has become the top backcourt running mate with Simmons. Fultz does still have the one advantage most backups of any experience can’t claim: The starter, Simmons, may begin the season on a minutes restriction and won’t be pressed into heavy lifting even if there is no official cap. Fultz’s versatility in being able to play both guard spots means he’ll get time at shooting guard anyway, even with Redick on board.
Transaction: Boston Celtics reach deal with Gordon Hayward
Rookie impact (in Utah and Boston): Jayson Tatum, who would have been in the top three among Rookie of the Year candidates if he had landed somewhere with a need at small forward, is now behind All-Star Hayward, Jaylen Brown coming off a promising first campaign in 2016-17 and veteran Jae Crowder. That’s a lot of ground to make up to claim an immediate place in the rotation.
Most of the way across the country, though, Hayward’s decision is an opening for Donovan Mitchell in Salt Lake City. Not by position – Hayward is a small forward, Mitchell a shooting guard who could eventually play enough at the point to become a standout among combo guards. But the Jazz think the No. 13 pick can play right away, love his toughness and his maturity, all valuable for a team that doesn’t consider itself in rebuilding mode and possibly about to rely on a rookie.
“Certainly Donovan has some offensive juice and we’re just learning about him, some characteristics, and how that plays out we’ll see,” Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey said. “We don’t want to put too much (on him) too soon. But we certainly liked what we saw during the scouting in college and then the pre-Draft process. There are a few guys that actually when they start getting in the process and going every day and not having to go to school, they improve. We felt like Donovan was one of them. He had an unbelievable workout for us that just blew us away. But we’re really, really excited about his character, his makeup, how he handles himself, and then the physical characteristics.”
Rookie impact (in Detroit): More fallout. Hayward goes to Boston, so Avery Bradley gets traded from the Celtics to the Pistons, so Detroit pulls the qualifying offer for small forward Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. So No. 12 pick Luke Kennard, a small forward, a shooter on a team that needs shooting, gets a big opening.
Rookie impact: There is the encouraging news for Terrance Ferguson’s long-shot ROY hopes. The bad news is that his biggest impact will come on offense and the Thunder just added George to go with Russell Westbrook. Maybe this isn’t the best place to go looking for shots. But Victor Oladipo being sent to Indiana as part of the return package, along with Domantas Sabonis, does give Ferguson a larger opportunity at shooting guard.
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