Over the past few days, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young stars have been competing against other developing players in the NBA Summer League. This was the first time many fans got a good look at the Bucks’ 2021 draft picks Sandro Mamukelashvili and Georgios Kalatzaikas. Additionally, it allowed developing talent from last season’s team to further showcase their potential. Both Jordan Nwora and Mamadi Diakite were able to get some much-needed minutes this offseason. Finally, other players just hoping to make a NBA roster were able to make their case while playing for the Bucks in the NBA summer league. Here, we highlight the top six performers of the week-long competition.
🏀 30 BALL 🏀
Jordan Nwora sizzles for 30 PTS, 8 REB and 6 AST in the @Bucks' MGM Resorts #NBASummer League opener 🦌 pic.twitter.com/jGJ6GKDMKw
— NBA (@NBA) August 10, 2021
Jordan Nwora did not play very much this past season for the Championship Bucks. However, his name has been on the lips of many as a possible replacement for Bryn Forbes, who departed for San Antonio in free agency. Why has that been, considering Forbes only averaged 5.7 points and 2.7 minutes in nine minutes per game and just 30 appearances? Because he has been absolutely lights out when given bigger roles.
Over the course of the NBA Summer League, Nwora averaged 20.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. Prior to the summer competition, he played for Nigeria in the Tokyo Olympics, and averaged 21.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. When given the chance to get extended playing time last season against the Chicago Bulls, Nwora scored 34 points and hauled in 14 rebounds.
Nwora’s scoring average in the NBA Summer League led all Bucks’ players. His shooting averages, however, were less than ideal. Over the course of the four games in which he played, Nwora shot just 34.5/17.5/80.0 from the floor. If he is to have a larger role this season, he will have to be more efficient with his shooting. However, he has shown flashes of brilliance and is still young. As he showcased in the Summer League, he has the potential to be a lethal scorer on the Bucks.
The rookie @Mamukelashvili5 did his thing at @NBASummerLeague. pic.twitter.com/22yDEubCEj
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 17, 2021
Sandro Mamukelashvili, the six foot eleven forward out of Seton Hall was the first player the Bucks drafted in the second round of this year’s draft. During his senior season in college, Mamu averaged 17.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 43.4/33.6/71.1 from the floor.
Mamu has drawn comparisons to former Bucks player Toni Kucoc, and his play in the NBA Summer League certainly showed why. In five games, Mamu averaged 11.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. In the final game the Bucks played against Denver, he exploded for 20 points and seven rebounds on 8/12 shooting from the floor. This included going 3/4 from behind the arc.
My main summer league takeaway is that Mamu is a potential player. As a rotation big he ticks a lot of boxes. Crashes the glass, above average passer and is willing to shoot the three. His defense appears passable. I don’t see a path to minutes this season but he’s fun to watch.
— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) August 17, 2021
As Locked on Bucks host Kane Pitman tweeted, it will be hard for Mamu to see minutes with the Bucks’ NBA roster this season given their depth in the front court. However, he certainly showed he is a developing contributor who will be fun to watch grow as a player.
GET UP BRANDON RANDOLPH! pic.twitter.com/lyZSARmEoh
— Cream City Central (@CreamCityCtral) August 10, 2021
Brandon Randolph was an undrafted free agent that the Bucks signed to play for the Wisconsin Herd in the 2019 season. Randolph played his college ball at Arizona, where he spent two seasons. In his second year, he average 12.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists while shooting 38.4/28.5/78.1 from the floor.
With the Wisconsin Herd in 2019-2020, Randolph averaged 6.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while playing 16.6 minutes per game. Unfortunately, Randolph was unable to compete last season as the Bucks’ affiliate did not participate in the short G League Bubble Tournament.
Randolph made up for lost time in this NBA Summer League. The young guard averaged 10.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assists over the course of four games. Encouragingly, his shooting averages were a bit better as he shot 42.4/31.2/90.0 from the floor. Randolph will likely remain with the Herd this season, but it was nice to see more young talent that the Bucks are developing.
When the Bucks signed Georgios Kalaitzakis with the 60th and final pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, no Bucks’ fan had really ever heard of him. A quick Google search would have revealed that he played professionally in Greece with Thanasis Antetokounmpo and had failed to be drafted in two previous NBA drafts. His stats certainly did not jump off the sheet either. In five professional seasons, Kalaitzakis averaged just 2.7 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game. All of these things made it all the more surprising when the Bucks did this:
Bucks have signed Georgios Kalaitzakis, the 60th pick in the NBA Draft to a reported 3 year deal.
The third year is being secured with a mid-level exception. This shows the confidence the Bucks have in him.
15 players on the Bucks roster with one two-way spot open. pic.twitter.com/i7Vb3P0iBz
— 𝐁𝐮𝐜𝐤𝐬 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 (@Bucks_Take) August 11, 2021
There were many fans who were critical of the signing at the time due to the fact that Milwaukee used the rest of its mid-level exception to get the deal done. However, the Bucks obviously saw something in Kalaitzakis that the fans did not.
Due to issues with his visa, Kalaitzakis was not immediately added to the Bucks’ Summer League roster. However, once he was able to come to the United States, he got right to work. His first stop was a workout with Milwaukee fan favorite, Bobby Portis.
.@BPortistime worked out with rookie Georgios Kalaitzakis today in Vegas. pic.twitter.com/ZmGDb9TGWl
— Scott Grodsky (@ScottGrodsky) August 9, 2021
Eventually, Kalatzakis was able to play in the final two Summer League games. Over the course of those games, he averaged 10.5 points, 0.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. Having signed a three-year deal with the Bucks, Milwaukee fans will certainly be seeing him around. Obviously, he has some developing to do, but he showed promise in a very small sample size.
Mamadi Diakite with the denial! 🤚 @Bucks #NBASummer pic.twitter.com/sLO6OzlbeG
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 13, 2021
Another undrafted free agent that the Bucks signed was Mamadi Diakite. Unlike Randolph, though, Diakite was signed last season and did get to participate in the NBA G League, as he was a member of the Lakeland Magic before Milwaukee signed him.
In 12 games in the NBA G League Bubble, Diakite averaged 18.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. These were much better numbers than what he had in college at Virginia. In his final college season, Diakite averaged 13.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. The season prior, he averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds on Virginia’s National Championship winning team.
With the Milwaukee Bucks this past season, Diakite saw limited playing time. He appeared in just 14 games, and averaged 3.1 points and 2.7 rebounds. In the Summer League, however, he got more minutes and put up much better numbers. Diakite averaged 9.8 points and 5.2 rebounds during the action this summer, though he was ejected early from one game due to a flagrant two foul. With the Bucks’ depth in the front court, it is not likely that Diakite will see much more time next season than he did this season. He could potentially spend time with the Wisconsin Herd.
D'Mitrik Trice : 24 points on 10-16 shooting, 3-6 from 3 & 3 assists in 26 minutes off the bench pic.twitter.com/Yhu90styHw
— Lee Harvey (@AyeThatsLee) August 17, 2021
A name familiar to many basketball fans in Wisconsin, D’Mitrik Trice got a shot to compete with the Bucks this summer despite going undrafted. A two-time All Big Ten player, Trice averaged 10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists over five seasons with Wisconsin. During that span, he shot 41.0/38.1/79.2 from the field.
Trice did not get many opportunities during the NBA Summer League. However, in the Bucks’ final game against the Nuggets, Trice was finally given extended minutes and responded with 24 points on 10/16 shooting. The performance made him the Bucks’ sixth leading scorer for the summer. All in all, Trice finished with averages of 8.0 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. Whether or not his future remains with Milwaukee or its G League affiliate remains to be seen.
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