The NBA Summer League is a great foundation as it doesn’t just let drafted players with guaranteed contracts ball out.
It offers the best platform for undrafted players to showcase their talents to NBA teams in hopes of potentially being offered an NBA contract.
While Kentucky players don’t typically go undrafted, the ones that do time and time again show legitimacy in the Summer League. We saw Isaiah Briscoe sign a multi-year contract with the Orlando Magic at the beginning of Summer League, and two more notable names are doing their best to land on an NBA roster.
Alex Poythress was a Kentucky fan favorite all the way through his senior season. He’s played in the NBA for the past two years, and is showing he deserves to stay in the league for a third straight year.
Poythress averaged 12.2 points per game in five SL games this summer with the Indiana Pacers. He shot 24-48 (50%) from the field, 4-11 (36.4%) from 3PT while putting up 4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1 block per game.
This includes a 21 point game in which he shot 10-17 from the floor and showcased an excellent blend of his size, athleticism, and finesse.
The Pacers were the first team to sign Poythress after he went undrafted in 2016. After putting him on waivers he got a 6-game stint with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017, averaging 10.7 points and even starting a game with them.
After his contract with Philadelphia expired Poythress would sign back with the Pacers for the 2017-2018 season, this time playing in 25 games. The two appear to have a strong relationship with each other, and it would be surprising if Indiana did not bring him back.
While not playing as proficiently as Poythress, Wenyen Gabriel has played above the standards that he was given after the draft. He’s doing so by utilizing his ball handling to attack the rim in transition, and using his perimeter shot to space the floor.
Oh my God, Wenyen Gabriel just took this man's soul. pic.twitter.com/6uIgFFaDYQ— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) July 14, 2018
Playing with the Sacramento Kings Gabriel has averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He had a 15 point game with two made 3s, a 10 rebound game, a vicious poster dunk, and a possible two-way contract offer.
It’s no secret that the Kings have always been fond of Kentucky players, and the NBA’s two-way contract system allows for unheralded players like Gabriel to be a part of an NBA team. It’s not fully guaranteed that he’ll receive an offer, but at the very least Gabriel will receive a training camp invite.
If Poythress and Gabriel can both land contracts, that would put Kentucky at 30 players with guaranteed money in the NBA for next season. Needless to say, that’s a tremendous accomplishment and amounts to two full NBA rosters.
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