After an unprecedented season that saw both Santa Cruz and Golden State take home titles, this month’s Las Vegas Summer League was the perfect opportunity for the emerging stars to continue to rise before the start of next season. Five players from Santa Cruz’s Championship squad saw Summer League action, all looking to impress and crack an NBA roster spot.
Taylor Griffin played for the D-League Select Team and headlined the roster as one of the four players with prior NBA experience. On this squad, Summer League’s underdogs band together in an effort to pull together victories against the players who are affiliated, for at least two weeks, with NBA teams. The D-Leaguers notched 3 wins and 2 losses, with Griffin averaging 7.4 ppg and 2.4 reb, having started in all 5 games. He finished strong in the team’s final game versus Brooklyn, recording 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals in 20 minutes of play. Looking back, this team certainly proved they could compete with the rest, which is yet another testament to the NBA’s minor league taking big steps forward.
Golden State’s Summer Warriors squad boasted the only two players in the history of the League to win two rings in one season: James Michael McAdoo and Ognjen Kuzmic. Santa Cruz champions, Aaron Craft and Dominique Sutton also joined the Warriors in Vegas, reuniting with their former teammates who collectively proved that they were built to win big. These four were joined by the familiar likes of Santa Cruz Warriors head coach, Casey Hill, and assistant coach, James Andrisevic, who both assisted Summer League head coach, Luke Walton during the Vegas games.
Dominique Sutton’s Summer League overall performance garnered attention from spectators which comes as no surprise for those who have witnessed his athleticism and defensive prowess this past season in Santa Cruz . In Vegas, he notably attacked the basket in transition and had some impressive put-back slams. He also emerged as one of the Warriors most impressive defensive players, consistent with his play last season in Santa Cruz.
James Michael McAdoo reinforced the sentiment that he belongs in the NBA. His play exuded confidence in his scoring options, particularly around the hoop. He scored in double-figures in 4 out of the 5 games played, with two 20-point scoring efforts vs. Cleveland and Sacramento. Ognjen Kuzmic, McAdoo’s dual champion counterpart, looked to explore a potential role in Warriors organization moving forward. The young Bosnian-born big man saw action in two Summer League games, finishing with 11 rebounds in his second game vs. Atlanta.
NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Craft now has another record to his name after his Summer League stint. After recording four assists for Golden State in their 100-91 loss to New Orleans, Craft broke the Warriors’ Las Vegas assists record for a single summer. He collected 27 assists in the Summer League, breaking the old mark of 23, set by Brian Chase in 2010.
Though the Warriors finished up their portion of the NBA’s Summer Classic on Saturday falling short in their Summer League Championship quest, spectators got a glimpse of who might find a permanent home on an NBA roster. On deck…the NBA Regular Season.