With Zion Williamson and Ja Morant out with injuries and R.J. Barrett struggling, the opportunity has presented itself for lesser-known players to get noticed during Las Vegas Summer League.
Chris Clemons, an undrafted rookie from Campbell, has made an impact. In a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, he scored 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting , made 7 of 13 3-pointers and launched his muscular 5-foot-9 frame for an alley-oop. The next day, he scored 22 points and made 5 of 11 3-pointers in a loss to Portland.
He ranked third overall in Las Vegas scoring after Sunday's games — not bad for someone who wasn't even invited to the draft combine.
"I know I can play with these guys at this level," Clemons said.
He just needs one NBA team to agree.
Clemons achieved notoriety for his college scoring, leading the nation with 30 points per game this past season. He tied for the scoring title and won MVP honors at the Portsmouth Invitational in April, then earned an invitation to the G League Select Camp in Chicago in May. He was hopeful of moving on from there to the draft combine, though the invite didn't arrive and no call came on draft night either.
So Clemons' next audition — not just for the Rockets, but for all 30 teams since they're all watching in Vegas — is coming in summer league.
Clemons' scoring ability is not in doubt, but what likely caught some eyeballs was his explosiveness for an alley-oop off an inbounds back-door pass, his defensive ability with six steals in the first two games and committing only five turnovers in 49 minutes. He also hasn't been afraid to mix it up defensively, even when in the paint against much bigger guys.
"I think everybody knows I can score," he said. "I need to show them the other facets of my game."
While Clemons' profile is rising, many better-known players have been quiet. Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick for the New Orleans Pelicans, is out for Summer League with a bruised left knee. He scored 11 points in nine minutes against New York, but took a knee-to-knee hit in the first half and didn't play after the break.
Morant, the No. 2 overall pick for the Memphis Grizzlies, isn't playing in Summer League after having knee surgery. Barrett (Duke), the No. 3 overall selection has played, but not well, for the New York Knicks. He averaged 9.0 points and shot 21 percent from the field in his first two games.
PELICANS 109, BULLS 72
Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans' first-round draft picks overshadowed by overall No. 1 pick Zion Williamson (Duke), had impressive Summer League debuts in the win over Chicago.
Hayes, the No. 8 pick, had 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting and a show-stopping dunk. Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech), the 17th pick, scored 23 points, making 9 of 16 shots, including three 3-pointers, with eight assists.
Williamson bruised a knee in his first game on Friday and will be held out the rest of Summer League.
Another first-round pick, Coby White (UNC), led Chicago (1-2) with 25 points.
CHINA 84, HORNETS 80
Zhou Qi scored 17 points and Zhao Jiwei made two free throws with two seconds left as China shocked the Hornets.
A heavy underdog, China (1-2) took the lead at the end of the first quarter and was up by 10 entering the fourth quarter. In losing their first two games, the Chinese only led a total of 122 seconds.
Guo Ailun added 12 points but missed two late free throws. Charlotte then had a wide-open lob on an out-of-bounds play but misfired on the pass and Zhao recovered the loose ball.
Arnoldas Kulboka led the Hornets (1-2) with 18 points and Joe Chealey had 16.
WARRIORS 88, LAKERS 80
Jordan Poole scored 23 points and the Warriors outscored the Lakers 29-13 in the second quarter to take control.
Jacob Evans added 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Golden State (2-1).
Jordan Caroline led the Lakers (0-3) with 27 points, going 12 for 12 from the foul line. Nick Perkins added 15 and Codi Miller-McIntyre (Wake Forest) and Devontae Cacok both had 10 rebounds and Cacok scored 10 points.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.