The NBA Summer League just got underway this week. New draftees, undrafted free agents, NBA G Leaguers and players on foreign circuits will look to make a strong enough impression to gain a coveted roster spot on one of 30 NBA rosters.
Three former Wyoming Cowboys received NBA Summer League roster spots. This past season’s front court tandem of Hayden Dalton and Alan Herndon will play on Denver and Washington’s summer league teams, respectively.
Josh Adams, two years removed from his playing days in the brown and gold, also found his way back to Dallas’ summer league roster. Former UW head coach Larry Shyatt — Adams’ college coach his entire career — is an assistant coach with the Mavericks.
Larry Nance Jr. left a noticeable mark during the summer a few years ago for the Los Angeles Lakers with a few jaw-dropping posterizations and dunks — RIP Festus Ezeli.
Nance was a first-round draft pick, but his summer league success likely had some impact with him working his way into the rotation and averaging 5.5 points and five rebounds per game during his rookie campaign.
Can any of the three aforementioned summer league Pokes have a similar audition to Nance?
Dalton likely has the best chance to find success this summer. The stretch forward truly blossomed with the Pokes as a senior. He made up for his slender frame in the post with an assortment of effective offensive moves. Dalton showcased his sleek ability to create space in the midrange with a Dirk Nowitzki-esque step back while also having nice touch from behind the 3-point arc.
Dalton averaged 17.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a senior in Laramie.
Dalton had multiple NBA workouts during the spring but didn’t receive a call from the Nuggets until three days after the NBA Draft. He wasn’t courted too aggressively in the hours following the draft, so perhaps those workouts or Dalton’s basketball build provided a few red flags to potential suitors.
In any event, I would say Dalton finds his way onto an NBA G League team or higher-end foreign league. The NBA, and the sport of basketball as a whole, has transitioned into a perimeter-oriented league and Dalton’s size and touch from the outside should land him somewhere noteworthy.
Herndon had a little more athleticism than Dalton, better shot-blocking ability and did just about everything offensively that Dalton did, just not as crisply. Herndon has a more NBA-ready body, still pretty slender, but not same the offensive prowess as Dalton. Herndon will likely end up overseas.
Herndon averaged 11.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in his senior season at UW.
While I’d love to say Adams’ basketball IQ, ball-handling ability and sheer explosiveness have a spot in the NBA, I just don’t think any team values Adams. The former Mountain West Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player didn’t get much of a shot during his inaugural summer league season and is most likely back with the Mavericks because of his connection with Shyatt. Adams will probably stay in Turkey, when it’s all said and done, where he has and will continue to forge a successful professional basketball career.
Indeed only time will tell for these three UW summer leaguers.
Perhaps one or more flourishes, surprises and finds his way to the big leagues for the 2018-19 season. It has happened plenty of times before.
Former Wyoming basketball player Francisco (Paco) Cruz tallied 24 points for Mexico in its upset victory over the United States in a FIBA World Cup Qualifying event.
Former UW basketball player Nathan Sobey plays for Australia on the FIBA World Cup team and was involved in a benches-clearing brawl against the Philippines.