Rating the NBA Rookies at Vegas Summer League
Lottery picks, first rounders and more ... plus a personal note
The 2022 NBA Summer League concluded Sunday in Las Vegas, and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the New York Knicks 85-77 to capture their second Summer League title since 2018.
When you’re a Blazers fan, you take what you can get since Portland has won only one NBA title — in 1977, before I was born. Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, I didn’t have a local team to root for, and since I’ve always prided myself on being different and going against the grain, I cheered for Portland because I wanted to be the only Blazers fan around.
But for me, Portland being crowned was far from the highlight of an event-filled seven days that started in Las Vegas — and was followed by multiple flight cancellations and delays — before I got back home in time to experience the ultimate: the birth of our first child.
Rafael Barlowe II made his debut on Wednesday morning at 9:57 Central Daylight Time, and it still hasn’t hit me that I’m really a father. I’m super-excited that I have the opportunity to shape and mold my son and push him to pursue his wildest dreams. Of course my best-case scenario is Rafael II following in my footsteps and pursuing a career in basketball as a player, scout, analyst or front-office executive. If he’s anything like me, he’ll eat, sleep and breathe basketball. But that also means he’ll have a mind of his own and probably pick his own team — and root against my childhood-favorite Blazers.
Over the course of my four-day stay in a small and chilly hospital room, overlapping with the second half of summer league, I received hundreds of calls and messages congratulating my wife and me on the new addition to our family. At the same time, I found myself unable to watch games, so I had to rely on stats, highlights and the opinions of the scouts, agents and other NBA personnel who called and texted to check on us.
All those calls and texts gave me the opportunity to wrap up NBA Summer League in a different way than I usually would, when I rely more on my own scouting observations.
Here is what I heard from a variety of NBA scouts, agents and front-office executives regarding some of the performances that stood out, for better and worse: