The NBA summer league is winding down, as the preliminary round of games ends on Thursday.

Only the top eight seeds will advance to a single-elimination tournament set to begin on July 13, so quite a few prospects will have to wait until the preseason begins in October to return to the court.

Some players have surpassed expectations in July while others have not. Success in the summer league does not necessarily translate to the regular season, but let's take a look at who is hot and who is not so far.

 

Hot

Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

Herro's criticism ahead of the 2019 NBA draft was based on his poor defense and lack of efficiency, despite his reputation as a sharpshooter. The summer league has allowed him to showcase that he has more to offer than shooting, though.

The 6-5 guard initiated the Heat's offense early and often and helped lead the team to a 3-1 record in the preliminary round. He showcased his playmaking ability out of pick-and-roll sets and has averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals.

Herro probably is not close to becoming a primary option for the Heat, especially since Miami already have Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler and Justise Winslow on board. But Herro's versatility is a good sign.

Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs

Walker had his rookie season derailed by a meniscus tear, but he appears like he is poised to have a great sophomore campaign.

The 6-5 guard entered Thursday tied for first in the summer league in points per game (30.0) and he has been ridiculously efficient. Walker shot 58 per cent from the field in his two appearances.

His team went 2-2, so it is not likely he will play again in the tournament.

The Spurs will have some serious battles in their 2019-20 backcourt, as Walker will compete with the likes of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan for time after playing in just 17 regular season games last season.

Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have found yet another diamond in the rough.

Boucher, 26, has played in 29 regular season games and is routinely dominating the summer league by averaging 22.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest. Toronto have the NBA's reigning Most Improved Player in Pascal Siakam, and Boucher could be up next. 

The 6-10 big man is fresh off a season in which he was crowned MVP and Defensive Player of the Year of the G-League, playing for Toronto 905. He won his second straight NBA title with the Raptors in 2018-19, as he played for the Golden State Warriors in 2017-18.

The departure of Kawhi Leonard could clear space for him to break into Toronto's rotation.

Not

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

New York were initially favoured to win the summer league championship but went an underwhelming 1-3.

Barrett, the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, averaged 14.0 points and 8.8 rebounds but shot 30 per cent from the field with genuine rotation players around him.

The Knicks could be in a lot of trouble if his shooting struggles linger.

Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers

Many felt Portland got a steal when they selected Little with the 25th pick in 2019 but he definitely has some work to do.

The 6-7 wing has tallied 22 minutes per contest through three games. He is averaging 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 33 per cent from the field. 

Little has shown flashes of his athleticism and is still figuring out how to fit in offensively.

Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers

Wade went undrafted after four years at Kansas State, so there were not lofty expectations for him.

However, the Cavaliers have not received much from him in the 27 minutes he has averaged through three games.

The 6-10 forward is averaging 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds but is only shooting 26 per cent from the field. That is a big drop off for a player who was the first option in college and hovered around 50 per cent shooting.

The Oklahoma City Thunder appear to have entered rebuild mode - and Russell Westbrook could be the next star out the door.

With Kawhi Leonard having persuaded Paul George to leave the Thunder and join him at the Los Angeles Clippers, eight-time All-Star Westbrook is understood to be open to the idea of ending his stay with the franchise.

The 30-year-old point guard, who has undergone a series of operations on his right knee, could prove difficult to move on, though. He has four years and over $160million remaining on the mammoth contract extension he signed in September 2017.

Still, we take a look at the teams that could offer Westbrook a new home.

 

New York Knicks

After trading away franchise player Kristaps Porzingis, losing out on top free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets and missing the chance to draft Zion Williamson, the Knicks will no doubt be keen to get a star on board.

They would have to wait until December to put together a package including players who they have recently signed, however.

 

Miami Heat

Having already signed Jimmy Butler in free agency, Miami is understood to be a destination that appeals to Westbrook.

The Heat have already got Hassan Whiteside off their books and could offer the favourable contracts of talented duo Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow, but a lack of draft capital to offer may prove troublesome.

 

Detroit Pistons

A move for Westbrook would likely require the Pistons' All-Star center Andre Drummond to head the other way. Still, Detroit's issue is the other salaries they could use in any deal; those contracts run for longer than the Thunder will surely have in mind for any new arrivals.

However, combining the former MVP with Blake Griffin would offer them a greater chance of success in a much-changed Eastern Conference.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves reportedly narrowly missed out on signing D'Angelo Russell, who joined the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Durant to the Nets.

Exchanging Andrew Wiggins' contract, which has four years and more than $120m remaining, for Westbrook undoubtedly presents them an improved chance of contending this season.

Yet such an agreement would again rely on significant draft picks being offered.

 

Other contenders

Putting Westbrook on a team with two other ball-dominant players in James Harden and Chris Paul sounds like a crazy idea, but that has not stopped the Houston Rockets reportedly taking an interest. The Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to trade Kevin Love and focus on a rebuild at some stage, though they could scrap that and pair him with Westbrook to make themselves relevant once again.

Chris Bosh's legacy will be immortalised in Miami.

The Heat announced on Monday they will retire Bosh’s number one jersey in a ceremony during half-time of the team's March 26 match-up against the Orlando Magic.

Bosh, who turns 35 next month, last appeared in an NBA game during the 2015-16 season. He was forced to step away from basketball as he dealt with blood clots that were believed to be career-ending.

“I am proud that Chris will have his No. 1 jersey retired and be honoured inside the AmericanAirlines Arena with this recognition for the greatness as a player on the court and his tremendous contributions to the Miami community off the court," Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement.

"His name and jersey will hang forever and always."

The 11-time All-Star was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the number four overall pick of the 2003 draft but was traded to Miami in 2010. He helped the Heat win back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

Bosh averaged 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 893 career regular-season games.

LeBron James made his home debut at Staples Center but it did not go according to plan after the Los Angeles Lakers lost a feisty game against the Houston Rockets. 

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