The MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2021 kicked off on Sunday, bringing the action back to Las Vegas after the coronavirus pandemic forced last summer’s hiatus.
Sunday’s slate of games featured the top two picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, as Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets saw Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green impress while wearing their new team’s colors. Also, intriguing lottery picks Scottie Barnes and Josh Giddey flashed glimpses of promise in their debuts for the Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.
But which rookies stood out most after Day 1? Our NBA experts breakdown the standout performances in Vegas along with the duel of two of the top big men in this year’s draft.
More: 30 teams, 30 players to watch in Las Vegas
H-Town’s rising star: Jalen Green
Playing his first competitive basketball since the G League Ignite’s season ended in early March, No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green made up for lost time in his summer league debut with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting.
Given free reign to run the offense for a Rockets team that didn’t start a traditional point guard, Green proved dangerous in isolations, hitting a series of off-the-dribble 3s going to his left — sort of a photo negative of former Houston guard James Harden. Given the difficulty of those pull-up attempts, Green won’t always be as accurate from 3 as he was Sunday (4-of-9), but opponents will have to respect that shot.
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