clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Four Summer Suns to watch during Vegas Summer League

I had five up there. But then the Suns, you know, traded Isaiah Todd...

NCAA Basketball: Legends of Basketball Showcase-Dayton at Wyoming David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend kicks off Vegas Summer League. Yay! Yay for basketball. Yay for Phoenix Suns basketball. Yay for casually watching basketball without consequences or stress. Yay for “it’s so damn hot outside I have nothing better to do” basketball.

For those who love the purity of the sport and the unfiltered competitive nature of basketball, Vegas Summer League is highly entertaining. Rookies making their initial splash, fringe players trying to drum up a contract, foreign players getting some repetitions in front of NBA scouts; Summer League is beautiful.

The Suns aren’t the team that they used to be when it comes to the Summer League. Once upon a time, this is where we would scout the newest talent acquired via the NBA Draft and anxiously watch every play for signs of stardom to come. Phoenix is 49-40 all time in Summer League games, and in 2015, they were one game shy of winning the Summer League Championship. That team, rostered with names like Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, and Mike James, lost to the San Antonio Spurs 93-90. Rookie Book went 3-of-10 in that game. Damn you, Spurs.

Here we are, eight years later, and the Summer League for most Suns’ fans is an afterthought. We now have Booker, Durant, and Beal. It’s not a different planet – we’re not on PLNT ORNG anymore – we’re in a different universe all together.

The amount of collective NBA minutes played by the guys rostered in Vegas will be minuscule. Phoenix is a team competing for a championship and have the majority of their roster currently defined.

But that shouldn’t take away from the fun watching the Summer League. There still are some interesting names, our 52nd pick, and some players who could earn NBA minutes, whether it’s with Phoenix or elsewhere.

To get you hyped for Vegas, here are five players to keep an ion as the Suns navigate their schedule.

Jordan Goodwin

Guard, 6’3”, 24-years old

Goodwin is no stranger to the NBA Summer League. After going undrafted in 2021, he joined the Washington Wizards summer squad, where he averaged 6.3 points and 5 rebounds. While playing with their G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, Goodwin set a franchise record with 94 steals.

A year later, he played his way on to the Wizards roster.

Goodwin once played for Bradley Beal’s St. Louis-based AAU team, and Beal is a fan of the young guard he’s watched develop. “It’s amazing, man, because he’s a true worker,” Beal said about Goodwin earning a roster spot. “He has the heart of a dog. You can’t teach that and you can’t give it out, you’re born with it. He’s had that since he was young and I’ve always seen it. This is just a testament to who he is and the hard work he puts in and he constantly puts in.”

Of all of the Summer Suns playing in Vegas, Goodwin has the highest probability of making an impact on the big league roster. He brings with him a defensive mentality and lock-down affinity to the guard position. Granted, with the acquisition of Eric Gordon, his minutes might be few and far between. But that doesn’t stop the talent that he possesses.

He is someone who you would define as a “Frank Vogel guy”, somebody who’s dedicated to the defensive side of the ball, and might bring a shades of Jevon Carter.

Toumani Camara

Wing, 6’9”, 23-years old

Older than Isaiah Todd, eh? That fits the James Jones mold of drafting.

This will be our first look at the rookie at the NBA level after spending four years at the colligate level — two with the Georgia Bulldogs (where he played with Nic Claxton and Anthony Edwards) and two with the Dayton Flyers — and averaging 11 points and 6.9 rebounds. Taken 52nd overall by the Suns with their only pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Camara is another athletic wing that Phoenix values.

Per Sports Illustrated:

His ability to blow-by bigs, perimeter skill, and ambidextrous finishing made him a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenders. He’s an explosive finisher around the rim with the ability to stretch the floor. He defended well and had some nice passing flashes that we didn’t get to really see at Dayton.

An undersized frontcourt player, Camara is a two-time All-A10 player and earned an All-A10 Defensive Team nod last season. His frame allows him to be extremely physical on the defensive end of the floor.

While he’s been a starter since his freshman season, Camara has shown tremendous improvement since starting his college campaign. He’s not an elite athlete but has plenty of athletic tools that he leverages well. His offensive efficiency from floor overall and from deep has steadily increased as his four college seasons progressed.

“Now that my foot’s in the door,” Camara commented after Summer League practice on Thursday, “I feel like I’m able to show my skills, express myself a little bit better. Being in different situations throughout the Summer League, yeah, it’s exciting.”

Camara recently signed a four-year deal with the Suns and appears to be someone the team will roster moving forward. He had promise, and it will be exciting to see what he brings to the table in Vegas.

Jordan Usher

Wing, 6’7”, 25-years old

Usher is another highly athletic wing to watch in Vegas and you may see some highlight dunks from him. High flying, energetic, and a stellar finisher, Usher is someone looking for a shot to play in the States.

He spent two years playing at USC before transferring to Georgia Tech. He has been described as someone who has, “ability to switch 1 through 5, defending opposing point guards and centers equally well.”

He went undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft and has been trying to break through for the past year. Usher said of himself, “I’m a tanker. I’m blue-collar. I’m from the country. I’ll put it down in a genuine way. I give energy. I’m a good, high-character young man. I’m a winner. You take a chance on Usher, I’m not going to fail you, I promise you that.”

Usher played last season in Turkey, playing 29 games for Besiktas S.J.. He was third on the team in scoring with 14.4 points, doing so on 63.9/40/72.6 splits. While the team finished 14th out of 16, Jordan was a highlight machine for the team.

Keanu Pinder

Wing, 6’11”, 28-years old

Pinder is, outside of the guys above, someone I’m excited to see in Summer League. Perhaps it’s because I listen to the Aussie Suns Fans Podcast, and Pinder is one of their own. Keanu is an Aussie native who has spent some time playing in their system as well as in the great state of Arizona.

He’s been playing in the NBL since 2020 and has won back-to-back Most Improved Player Awards in the league. You may remember him at the University of Arizona, where he played from 2016-18 coming off of the bench. He is a former teammate of Deandre Ayton.

He’s long with a 7’ wingspan and he can fill it up. Just watch:

Good. Now you’re prepped. Enjoy the basketball that lies ahead; it’ll be our last for a couple of months! We’ll be posting our game previews and recaps right here on Bright Side, and the Suns JAM Session will be going live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch after every Summer League game. Because I’m a psycho.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bright Side of the Sun Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Phoenix Suns news from Bright Side of the Sun