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NBA Summer League success doesn’t always to future stardom. But the best summer league players of all time is still a fascinating list.
The NBA Summer League is a very weird event because so many factors come into play. First is the inevitable overreaction from every single fan base. I was guilty when Kyle Anderson and Jonathan Simmons lit it up for San Antonio in 2015, and I’m sure everyone has had their moment.
Then comes the fringe-NBA journeymen playing against incredibly hyped lottery picks, and sometimes the journeymen obliterate the competition. Finally is the small sample size, with many players only appearing in four games in a single summer.
For the sake of this list, we will be looking at the greatest Summer League careers, so players who played more games over multiple seasons will be favored over one-hit-wonders. For example, the highest scoring average in a Summer League season belongs to Marcus Banks, with 42 points per game. That being said, he only appeared in one game in 2007, and in 2006 he was only above average, so he will not make this list.
The interesting thing about Summer League stars is that they didn’t all have solid NBA careers. It’s too early to tell, but only half the players listed have any chance whatsoever of making the Hall of Fame, and some of these players had largely forgettable NBA careers. That’s the fun thing about Summer League. Role players and journeymen get to play with the best young players in the country, and often the lesser talent gives the stars the business.
Who are the best NBA Summer League players ever?
For the sake of this list, whole summer careers are factored in, and NBA success has nothing to do with who is ranked where. Personally, I prefer a well-rounded game over big scoring numbers, so that bias is admittedly included, but you can rerank these players however you see fit.