Pistons Summer League action is only hours away. One player participating in the games that may be feeling some added pressure is Henry Ellenson. Now going into his third season as a professional, he as of yet has not done a whole lot to show that he deserves a roster spot in the NBA. While he wasn’t given (read: didn’t earn) too many opportunities to prove himself under the Van Gundy regime, he didn’t exactly show much in his actual opportunities, either. With a new coaching staff and management in place, Henry needs to impress in any way he can.
So here we are and here is a ranking of the top 50 players competing in the 2018 NBA Summer League. Detroit’s very own Henry Ellenson didn’t make the top 50.
The author of the rankings is known and well-respected basketball writer Johnathan Wasserman. I think Wasserman makes an important note in that “these rankings are based on how each player is projected to perform right now and not on long-term potential.” Keep that in mind moving forward.
Now, as a third-year player playing in an 11-day league where the majority of the participants are undrafted rookies and the “fringiest” of the fringe NBA journeymen, you’d think Henry would be projected to be a pretty strong performer.
However, maybe not — I guess it depends on how you look at it. Maybe a lot of you will see the list and say that, of course, Ellenson should be ranked outside of the top 50, as after all, he’s still playing in Summer League after two seasons of NBA experience. How good can he really be? And that thought process is absolutely legitimate, too.
I know the rankings are meant to drum up chatter and not be taken all that seriously (it’s a quite subjective ranking), but I tend to lean toward the fact that Henry Ellenson just might be one of the most irrelevant players still playing for an NBA team. And Ellenson performing well in Summer League — as he probably will — won’t change that current irrelevance, but it’s something positive at the very least that he can take with him into his continued conditioning and skill work for the rest of the summer and early fall before the start of training camp. If Ellenson doesn’t overly impress during this Summer League, then that could be pretty telling; essentially it’s a no-win situation for the 21-year-old right now. He’s supposed to eat up the Summer League competition.
Of course, a good chunk of the players listed on the rankings are markedly better than Ellenson. Players such as John Collins, Marvin Bagley (R), Deandre Ayton (R), Jaren Jackson Jr. (R), Bam Adebayo, Caris Levert, Zach Collins and OG Anunoby (among some others) fall into the markedly better category.
Although, as you get deeper into the rankings, several rookies are there along with a smattering of other players with at least some NBA experience. The names that I’d like to note are Khem Birch, T.J. Leaf, Terrance Ferguson, Jevon Carter (R), Dragan Bender, Sterling Brown, Kevin Huerter (R).
It may make you question how much potential the Ellenson has when you compare him to certain players deemed, right now, as better. It also probably will make you question how much patience an organization should have with a young player with some of the actual talent Ellenson has. Should the Pistons have already cut their losses and moved on from Ellenson? Or, is it the smart decision to give the 21-year-old and former 18th pick a real opportunity to show that he belongs?
In the end, when it comes to Henry Ellenson, this Summer League action is an ice cream cone without any ice cream in it, and we’re all just going to have to wait until a certain point in the regular season to see if Henry can help an NBA team or not. Let’s hope then that clarity (and the ice cream) shows itself.
Again, here’s the top 50 2018 Summer League player rankings.
Where do you stand on Henry Ellenson?