The Memphis Grizzlies have made it to the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League championship game, and they’ve done so in large part thanks to the impressive play of Brandon Clarke

One of the Grizzlies’ two first-round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft along with Ja Morant, Clarke was named 2019 Summer League MVP on Monday, and also earned a spot on the Summer League First Team. 

The award is a cool honor for Clarke, but what does it actually mean? Summer League is, well, Summer League. It’s an 11-day event in the desert, which, for most of the hundreds of young players — many of whom have never played together — serves as a job audition to either keep their current spot or earn a new one elsewhere. 

That is to say it is not the NBA, but at the same time it’s not meaningless. In an attempt to discern the value of Clarke’s award, here’s what history tells us about the players who have taken home Summer League MVP before him.

First, a list of the previous Summer League MVPs, dating back to 2006 when they first started handing out the award. (Summer League was cancelled in 2011 because of the lockout.)

And now, here’s a look at some key indicators regarding how these players’ careers have gone so far, including career length, key stats, accolades and earnings. 

Career length

Player Seasons played

Randy Foye

11 (retired)

Nate Robinson 

11 (retired)

Jerryd Bayless

11

Blake Griffin

9 (missed entire 2009-10 season)

John Wall

9

Damian Lillard

7

Josh Selby

2

Jonas Valanciunas

7

Glen Rice Jr.

2

Kyle Anderson

5

Tyus Jones

4

Lonzo Ball

2

Josh Hart

2

As this table shows, there have really only been two flame-outs in almost 15 years of the award being handed out: Josh Selby and Glen Rice Jr. Both of those players were high-volume gunners who managed to get hot during their Summer League campaigns, but couldn’t translate that success to the NBA level. 

Besides those two, however, everyone else has at the very least gone on to a solid career, or is in the midst of putting one together. It also bodes well for Clarke on this front that he succeeded in Vegas using a multifaceted game and elite athleticism, and didn’t simply have a few strong shooting nights that weren’t sustainable against better competition. 

Key stats (career averages)

Player Points Rebounds Assists Shooting splits (FG% / 3FG% / FT%)

Randy Foye

10.3

2.2

2.8

 40.1 / 36.6 / 85.2

Nate Robinson

11.0

2.3

3.0

42.3 / 36.0 / 79.6

Jerryd Bayless

8.4

2.1

2.9

41.1 / 36.1 / 81.8

Blake Griffin

21.9

9.0

4.5

50.2 / 34.2 / 69.2

John Wall

19.0

4.3

9.2

43.3 / 32.4 / 78.1

Damian Lillard

23.5

4.2

6.2

43.4 / 36.8 / 88.9

Josh Selby

2.2

0.5

0.9

33.0 / 14.3 / 72.0

Jonas Valanciunas

12.1

8.5

0.8

55.8 / 35.7 / 78.6

Glen Rice Jr.

2.7

1.5

0.6

26.9 / 25.0 / 69.2

Kyle Anderson

5.3

3.9

1.9

49.2 / 32.4 / 70.6

Tyus Jones

5.1

1.5

3.3

41.9 / 33.3 / 81.9

Lonzo Ball

10.0

6.2

6.4

38.0 / 31.5 / 43.7

Josh Hart

7.9

3.9

1.3

43.5 / 36.1 / 69.5

Aside from the obvious fact that Blake Griffin, John Wall and Damian Lillard have had the best careers so far, there’s really not much you can take away here from a statistical perspective because of the variance in career length and positional differences. 

Accolades

Player All-Rookie Rookie of the Year All-Star appearances All-NBA appearances All-Defense appearances

Randy Foye

First Team

Nate Robinson

Jerryd Bayless

Blake Griffin

First Team

Rookie of the Year

6

5

John Wall

First Team

5

1

1

Damian Lillard

First Team

Rookie of the Year

4

4

Josh Selby

Jonas Valanciunas

Second Team

Glen Rice Jr.

Kyle Anderson

Tyus Jones

Lonzo Ball

Second Team

Josh Hart

The notes about accolades are interesting. Once again this section shows that Griffin, Wall and Lillard have by far put together the best careers of any former Summer League MVP. 

But more so than that, this table shows that even though most former MVPs have gone on to solid careers, the honor is by no means a predictor of future greatness. That aforementioned trio are the only players to earn All-Star or All-NBA nods, and only six players from this group have even made an All-Rookie team. 

Of course, that’s not super surprising given the fact that most players who make the NBA don’t go on to play in an All-Star Game or make an All-NBA team, but it is an interesting note. 

Career earnings

Player Career earnings (through 2017-18)

Randy Foye

$34,376,401

Nate Robinson

$24,727,781

Jerryd Bayless

$40,030,604

Blake Griffin

$126,191,307

John Wall

$89,669,865

Damian Lillard

$64,326,649

Josh Selby

$1,312,195

Jonas Valanciunas

$45,335,699

Glen Rice Jr.

$400,000

Kyle Anderson

$5,580,343

Tyus Jones

$4,093,142

Lonzo Ball

$6,286,560

Josh Hart

$1,394,520

Seven members of this list have gone on to make at least $24 million in their career, and that doesn’t even include Kyle Anderson or Tyus Jones, each of whom have inked new contracts that will take them over that number. Likewise, Lonzo Ball seems like a lock to make more than that, and Josh Hart has a solid chance as well. 

Winning Summer League MVP seems to be a strong indicator of future success for Clarke. It’s up to him to fulfill his potential, but based on his play in Vegas this past week and what history has shown us about players who win the award, Clarke seems on his way to a long, productive and lucrative career. 

News



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here