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What Do Summer League Stats Really Mean?

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

Everyone is spending way too much time being concerned with the play of certain Rookies drafted #3 overall and how this will translate into his NBA career. I am here to tell you what the numbers being put up in SL19 actually mean.

The short answer is.... NOTHING! As simple as that is, a post that short wont get you clicks, so allow me to elaborate.

This is not a showcase for all the incoming rookies and second year players. This is a development tool and a chance for teams to fill out rosters with individuals who can be an impact when called upon. 

Last year Kevin Knox looked like the second coming of LeBron James during Summer League and that he was going to run away with Rookie of the Year. That obviously was not the case. He had some great positives and plenty of moments that highlight his need for growth during the season. Kobe Bryant averaged 7.6ppg in his rookie season and didn't start averaging over 20ppg until his fourth year in the league (22.7).

Separately but not unrelated, RJ Barrett is having a rough go of things so far, which is to be expected. He has not played organized basketball since the end of the NCAA tournament and needs time to get his feel for the game back and get into a flow with his new teammates. 

Everyone expects him to be an immediate impact player and dominate the competition from the tip off of the first summer run. That is not reasonable, development takes time.

NBA Life is an uncertain one, at best. Below are a handful of #3 overall picks to highlight the range of expectation vs reality.

2018 Luka Doncic, Real Madrid - Atlanta Hawks

Draft night trade to Dallas (Trae Young)

Rookie of the Year

2017 Jayson Tatum, Duke – Boston Celtics

Becoming number 1 option in Boston

2014 Joel Embiid, Kansas – Philadelphia 76ers

Injuries kept him off the court his first 2 NBA Season

Solid Defensive presence and Troll

2011 Enes Kanter, Kentucky – Utah Jazz

Starter, moved to bench role with OKC, Starter with Knicks, Bench in Portland

No consistent role yet

2009 James Harden, Arizona State – Oklahoma City Thunder

6th Man in OKC

MVP 2018 with Houston (finished second in voting 3 times in 5 years)

2008 O.J. Mayo, USC – Minnesota Timberwolves

League ban in 2016

Currently playing in China

2006 Adam Morrison, Gonzaga – Charlotte Bobcats

Knee Injury derailed career 7.7ppg/career (4 seasons)

2003 Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse – Denver Nuggets

One of the greatest iso scorers to ever play

No defense to speak of

Currently a Free Agent

The sky is NOT falling, Chicken Little... It's just Summer League. Whatever and whoever RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina are going to become will not be dictated on the courts in Las Vegas, NV.

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