A look at top performers from the fourth day of action at the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League:
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Ayton blocked only one shot and committed four turnovers in 25 minutes. The top pick of this year’s Draft was otherwise dominant, scoring 17 points on an efficient 6-for-10 shooting — including four dunks — while pulling down 13 rebounds. Both totals were game-highs. Most of that production came at the expense of fellow lottery pick Mo Bamba, who blocked five shots and recorded two steals but scored just four points.
Troy Brown Jr., Washington Wizards
Brown, a Las Vegas native, is playing before a friendly crowd. That naturally led to opening-game jitters last weekend against the Cavs as Brown struggled. But the Wizards’ No. 1 pick from Oregon has looked solid since then. Brown followed up that debut with 21 points and 12 rebounds against the Spurs, and then went for 23 and 7 in Monday’s win against the Sixers. Brown was matched against another first-rounder, Zaire Smith, and helped hold the Sixers forward to two points (on 1-for-9 shooting). Brown is facing a numbers game at forward in Washington with Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre but so far, so good in his hometown.
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
Bridges had his best all-around performance yet, with 20 points, seven rebounds and zero turnovers in a loss to the Celtics. Bridges was a reliable shooter at Michigan State and the Hornets want him to get comfortable at NBA 3-point range. He took 10 against the Celtics, making four, so it’s an ongoing process. The Hornets have had only middling success in the draft over the past decade, so the stakes are high with Bridges. They’re encouraged by his play in Vegas so far.
TJ Leaf, Indiana Pacers
Last year’s No. 1 pick had a much-needed showing in Vegas with 20 points and nine rebounds against the Cavs. Leaf opened Summer League with dreadful 2-for-14 shooting, then followed up with a more respectable 7-for-13 against the Spurs on Saturday. This time Leaf managed 8 for 21, as the Pacers clearly made him the focal point against the Cavs. What’s crucial for Leaf is improving his accuracy from deep. He’s just 2-for-13 so far in Vegas — not nearly good enough for a hopeful stretch four. Leaf is trying to tap into the Pacers’ rotation, which he was unable to do during his rookie season.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers
He won’t have the pleasure of playing alongside LeBron James, but Sexton can make up for lousy timing by taking advantage of the situation: Cleveland needs good news this season. Well, Sexton went for 21 points and four assists when matched against another point guard taken in the first round, Aaron Holiday of the Pacers. The Cavs are giving Sexton plenty of minutes — 30 against Indiana — and responsibility in Vegas, as a way of expediting his learning curve ASAP. The co-freshman of the year in the SEC last season at Alabama could be an immediate starter in Cleveland, which would help usher in a new era for a franchise rebuilding post-LeBron.
Sterling Brown, Milwaukee Bucks
Brown is anxious to make news for something other than a controversial arrest captured on video, in which Milwaukee’s police chief said the officers involved acted “inappropriately.” He did just that in a loss to the Nuggets, with an impressive 27-point, seven-rebound, three-assist effort. Brown was a second-round pick by the Sixers last year and immediately traded to the Bucks, where he stuck but failed to become a significant part of the rotation. The Bucks remain high on him nonetheless, and he can help his cause with continued success in Vegas.