Gauging Louis King’s Future Impact in the NBA After He Won the 2021 Summer League Championship MVP Award

August 20th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Sacramento Kings’ forward, Louis King (pictured in the center) scored 21 points and also collected 5 steals against the Boston Celtics to help his team win the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League Championship, and his strong performance in the championship game also helped him win the 2021 NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP award.
(Photo:
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images, via CBS Sports)

I would like to congratulate Sacramento Kings’ forward, Louis King for winning the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP award, and for helping his team win the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League.  I then wondered how well he might play in the upcoming NBA season and in the future. With this, I decided to try to assess how much or little winning this award could help him in the future.

Sacramento Kings’ forward, Louis King played very well in the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League, and he and rookie point guard Davion Mitchell led their team to win the Summer League championship this year.  In fact, Louis King scored 21 points, made 4 threes, and he also notched 5 steals, 3 rebounds, and was a +15, which helped him win the Summer League Championship MVP.  For those that are interested in the box score of that game, here is the link.

Sacramento Kings’ 6-8 forward, Louis King scored 21 points in the Las Vegas Summer League Championship game to help his to defeat the Boston Celtics, which helped him earn the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP.
(Source: YouTube/House of Highlights)

Once considered a potential first round prospect in the 2019 draft, Louis King is an athletic 6-8 forward that surprisingly went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, and he is a skilled, young player that is looking to be a regular rotation player for the Sacramento Kings.  I wondered to myself, what might the outlook be for him, and how much or little might this award help him in the future?

With this, I took a look at which players have won the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP in past years.  From 2013 and onwards, the players that won this award were Ian Clark, Ray McCallum Jr., Jonathan Simmons, Jerian Grant, Kyle Kuzma, K.J. McDaniels, and Brandon Clarke.  Since first round picks get guaranteed contracts and are near automatic bets to play in the NBA (unless if they get stashed overseas first) and are generally afforded more opportunities to play in the NBA than second round picks and undrafted players on average, I decided to remove them from the pool that would be used to analyze Louis King. 

Therefore, the remaining players that I would look at to gauge Louis King’s potential future success for the upcoming season and in the NBA after winning this award would be based on how Ian Clark, Ray McCallum Jr., Jonathan Simmons, and K.J. McDaniels have fared afterwards. 

In examining how each of the former second round picks or undrafted players did after they won the Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP, I can look at this to study how well Louis King may fare for both the 2021-22 NBA season, and in the future.

Ian Clark – Summer League Championship MVP (2013)

2013-14 (UTA): 23 GP, 3.0 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 39 FG%, 35 3PT%, 71 FT%, 90 ORtg, 111 DRtg, -0.1 WS, -.025 WS48

NBA Career before winning the SLC MVP: No stats, previously played in college at Belmont
NBA Career after winning the SLC MVP: 330 GP, 5.6 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 44 FG%, 34 3PT%, 80 FT%, 102 ORtg, 111 DRtg, 4.4 WS, .047 WS48

An undrafted rookie out of Belmont coming into the summer league, Ian Clark scored 33 points to win the Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP award in 2013

His strong performance there helped kickstart a 6-year NBA career for Clark.  He didn’t play much as a rookie, but he would later provide some shooting and scoring off the bench for various NBA teams, and he also was part of the 2017 NBA championship team with the Golden State Warriors. 

Ray McCallum Jr. – Summer League Championship MVP (2014)

2014-15 (SAC): 68 GP, 7.4 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2.6 RPG, 44 FG%, 31 3PT%, 68 FT%, 102 ORtg, 111 DRtg, 1.4 WS, .045 WS48
NBA Career before winning the SLC MVP: 45 GP, 6.2 PPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 RPG, 38 FG%, 37 3PT%, 74 FT%, 98 ORtg, 112 DRtg, 0.4 WS, .020 WS48
NBA Career after winning the SLC MVP: 109 GP, 5.9 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.1 RPG, 42 FG%, 32 3PT%, 70 FT%, 101 ORtg, 109 DRtg, .043 WS48

Ray McCallum had played one season previously for the Sacramento Kings as a rookie, and after winning the championship game MVP award in the Summer League in 2014, he went on to have arguably his best season in the NBA, as he averaged highs in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, and in games played with Sacramento during the 2014-15 season.

He didn’t play nearly as well in successive seasons, and he ended up only playing three seasons in the NBA.

Jonathon Simmons – Summer League Championship MVP (2015)

2015-16 (SAS): 55 GP, 6.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 50 FG%, 38 3PT%, 75 FT%, 106 ORtg, 102 DRtg, 2.0 WS, .119 WS48
NBA Career before winning the SLC MVP: No stats, had previously played in the NBA G-League for the Austin Spurs
NBA Career after winning the SLC MVP: 258 GP, 8.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 44 FG%, 32 3PT%, 76 FT%, 11 PER, 101 ORtg, 109 DRtg, 6.2 WS, .056 WS48

Simmons may have arguably had the most successful season amongst second round or undrafted players in the season immediately following winning their Summer League championship game MVP award.  After Jonathon Simmons won the championship game MVP award with the San Antonio Spurs in the Las Vegas Summer League in 2015, it helped spawn a four-year NBA career for him afterwards.  He had a good rookie season during the 2015-16 year with the Spurs. 

Simmons had played two seasons in the NBA for San Antonio, and he then signed a fairly large contract with Orlando, and he went on to have arguably his best season during the 2017-18 season for them.  He struggled the very next year as he later got traded to Philadelphia for Markelle Fultz, and Simmons is no longer in the NBA, as he ended up playing four seasons in the league.

K.J. McDaniels  – Summer League Championship MVP (2018)

2018-19 (NBA): 0 GP, did not play in the NBA regular or postseason
NBA Career before winning the SLC MVP: 148 GP, 5.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.6 APG, 41 FG%, 29 3PT%, 78 FT%, 95 ORtg, 107 DRtg, 1.3 WS, .030 WS48
NBA Career after winning the SLC MVP: Has not played in the NBA after winning the 2018 SLC MVP

K.J. McDaniels was an athletic, bench scorer that didn’t really shoot well in the NBA, but he provided enough intrigue and played well enough as a rookie during the 2014-15 NBA season to sign a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets in the offseason. 

He ended up winning the Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP in 2018, but unfortunately, he never played in the NBA after that.  He has averaged 5.3 points per game during his three-year NBA career that spanned from 2014 to 2017.

The encouraging thing is that three of the four players that were either second round picks or undrafted players that won the Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP award have gone on to play in the NBA immediately in the regular season following winning this award.  While they have tended to play multiple years in the NBA afterwards, it did not necessarily guarantee them a permanent spot in NBA rotations for the upcoming season.

In assessing these trends, the NBA players above that have won the Summer League Championship MVP awards have tended to increase their shooting and offensive efficiency and defensive production.  They have also tended to play more in the NBA than the year before, though they haven’t tended to get a firm grasp in NBA rotations afterwards.  On the downside, only Simmons averaged over 1000 minutes per season in his NBA career after winning the SLC MVP award, and only Ian Clark has played five NBA seasons or more in the sample of second round picks and undrafted players that won this award. 

Sacramento Kings’ forward, Louis King threw down this magnetic dunk in his team’s win over the Charlotte Hornets on August 9th in the 2021 NBA Las Vegas Summer League.
(Source: Twitter/@NBATV)
Here is another set of highlights of Louis King’s 21-point, 5 steal game as he helped the Sacramento Kings win the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League Championship.
(Source: Twitter/@NBA)

In analyzing Louis King’s NBA season data, he barely played for the Detroit Pistons as a rookie during the 2019-20 year, but he played well in 6 games for the Sacramento Kings in his second season.

It can be surmised that there is no guarantee that he will play more or play substantially more, but Louis King’s efficiency numbers are likely to increase in the immediate aftermath if he does play more for the Sacramento Kings in the 2021-22 NBA season.

There’s still uncertainty that may lie ahead for both King and the Sacramento Kings. On one hand, there’s no guarantee that Louis King would have a long and productive career in the NBA, but in the short term, he projects to be an athletic shooter that can provide some scoring off the bench, and he also could prove to be a capable defender for the upcoming season. 

He’ll still have to battle for minutes to be a regular rotation player for the Sacramento Kings for the upcoming season, but I think it does give him a leg up on the competition that he’ll compete with for minutes, and he could play substantially more in the NBA than he had in his first two years in this league.  It’s hard to predict how far he’ll go in this league after winning this award, but my predictions are that Louis King will be able to carve out a role as an athletic shooter off the bench, that he’ll be a rotation player in the NBA for at least several seasons, and maybe he will be able to beat the odds and carve out a long career in this league. Either way, it’s a good sign for both Louis King and the Sacramento Kings that he played very well this summer, and King could be a good bet to get a significant increase in minutes for the upcoming season, as so long as the Kings don’t suddenly grow impatient with him later on.

Winning this award is a testament to the hard work that Louis King has put in, but it’s still far from a guarantee of whether or not if he will play substantially more in the NBA for the upcoming season.  It is an encouraging development that Louis King won the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League Championship MVP, but he still has to work hard to earn his minutes to try to succeed in the NBA. For King and the Sacramento Kings, if they stay on track to continue to work to develop his game, he could help them both for the upcoming season and in the future in the NBA.

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