Take a look at some of the best efforts by NBA stars in the Drew League over the past few years.
For nearly 40 years, the Drew League has been a staple of Southern California summer culture. The Drew is a summer pro-am league that Dino Smiley founded in 1973. It has brought together local players, streetball superstars, international players, ex-professionals and NBA superstars for the love of the Game.
NBA players looking for a run in the offseason will head to King Drew Magnet High School, where fans will crowd the building for the chance to see players like james lebron, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryantand DeMar DeRozan close.
It’s comparable to watching Drake or Beyonce perform at a neighborhood club rather than a stadium or a large arena.
In Drew, weekends are unpredictable. Which players will show up and show up is a talking point. Plus, if you’re inside the building – or streaming, if you’re not in LA – you never know when you might see something amazing.
12 Outstanding NBA Star Appearances In The Drew League
Here’s a look back at 12 of the NBA stars’ most notable Drew League appearances, starting with the ones that just happened this month.
12. LeBron James
- The Game: July 16, 2022 | MMV Cheaters vs. Black Pearl Elite
- The stats: 42 points, 16 rebounds, 4 steals
LeBron James put on a show for the approximately 2,500 spectators in his first Drew League game since 2011 during the NBA lockout as he teamed up with Chicago Bulls swingman and Compton native DeMar DeRozan for the MMV Cheaters.
The Cheaters defeated Black Pearl Elite, 104-102, thanks to LeBron’s 42 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and DeRozan’s 30 points and 14 rebounds. Fans won’t remember the end result of the match, but rather the atmosphere in the arena and the standout plays like that alley off the backboard that electrified the crowd.
11. DeMar DeRozan
- The Game: July 19, 2015 | MHP versus Hank’s new image
- The stats: 38 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists
DeRozan is a regular at his hometown summer showcase, while LeBron only shows up at the Drew once every ten years. There have been many great performances from DeRozan, but 2015’s stood out because DeRozan led MHP to an 87-58 victory over Hank’s New Image while recording a triple-double with 38 points, 13 rebounds and 10 passes.
Despite only having one triple-double in his NBA career, DeRozan filled out the stat sheet at the Drew because the points he scored (38) or assisted in creating (20+) were enough to win the match.
10. Kevin Durant
- The Games: First Drew League doubleheader in 2011
In an effort to improve his game each offseason, Durant played with his hometown pro-am Goodman League. However, Durant made a few major appearances elsewhere during the 2011 lockdown. He went to the Drew League and Rucker Park in Harlem, where he dropped 66 points.
Durant made his Drew League debut while playing for the game’s Money Gang team. He alley-ooped himself off the backboard while rising after passing just inside the 3 point line. However, Durant decided one game wasn’t enough and joined by James Harden LA Kings team for another race the same day.
Even LA icon and Drew League documentary producer Baron Davis ranks Durant’s performance in his Drew League debut as one of the top five Drew League moments. Two summers later, KD returned to the Drew and led LAUNFD with 35 points and 17 rebounds in a 92-90 loss to Money Gang as Durant missed the go-ahead 3-pointer with seconds remaining.
9. Kobe Bryant
- The Game: July 17, 2011 | Star Match
- Statistics: 45 points and a winning jumper
Following the end of the 2011 league campaign, Kobe Bryant made his Drew League debut. It was decided that Bryant would play with other Drew League stars before a Drew team traveled to Washington, D.C. to take on Durant’s Goodman League team in a battle of the two pro-ams. .
Smiley initially denied Bryant’s request to play in the championship game in order to maintain the integrity of the competition by not allowing a ringer to enter during the playoffs.
As spectators rushed onto the court in celebration, Kobe stole the show with 45 points, including the game-winning midrange pull-up on a young Harden. Depending on who you ask, Harden scored 44 or 47 points in the loss, but that day was all about the ‘Black Mamba’.
8. Brandon Jennings
- The games: July 7 & 14, 2014
- The stats: 57 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists (July 7) | 56 points, four rebounds, two assists (July 14)
In his seventh NBA game, then-Milwaukee dollars rookie Brandon Jennings made history on November 14, 2009, scoring 55 points. It remains his career high in his nine NBA seasons. But in July 2014, Jennings recorded back-to-back 50-point performances for The Clozers in the Drew League, where he was virtually unbeatable.
It all started on July 7 when Jennings led the Clozers to a 107-84 victory over SoleClinics with 57 points, six rebounds and five assists. A week later, in a 93-92 victory over the Kings of LA, Jennings scored 56 points, grabbed four rebounds and provided two assists.
Jennings’ 50-point streak came to an end two weekends later when he finished with just 33 points in a 99-88 win over CABC
7. Paul George
- The Game: July 6, 2014 | MHP versus Tradition
- The moment: A not-to-be-missed 360-degree windmill jam
george, a native of Palmdale, Calif., has joined other local stars like DeRozan and Davis as a Drew League regular. George even included a colorway of his iconic Nike PG5s in which he paid homage to the Drew League.
George pulled off a steal on July 6, 2014, late in the first half, resulting in a quick one-man break. It gave him the chance to really shine, and he did just that by snapping a 360-degree windmill snap and giving the audience a bit of deja vu.
the old Indiana Pacers Great achieved the same slam in the Drew League in 2012 and against the Los Angeles Clippers in January 2014. The dunk was executed with ease, perfection and was certainly entertaining for onlookers.
- The Game: July 5, 2015 | BB4L vs. LAUNFD
- Stats: 44 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
We have to point to Davis’ 44-point effort from July 2015 as an example. Three years had passed since the end of his NBA career, but judging by those highlights, especially that incredible dribble and flat behind the back, he always seemed to have plenty of gas in the tank as he guided his team to victory.
5. Show Harrell
- The Game: July 20, 2019 | Public enemy against BB4L
- Statistics: 46 points
Trae Young’s Drew League debut, who played for BB4L, was marred by harrell and his Public Enemy team as Harrell finished with a game-high 46 points to lead Public Enemy to a 102-95 victory. Young scored 31 total points in the loss, showcasing his grip and nearly limitless shooting range, but Harrell was the star of the show.
4. Trae Young
- The Game: July 23, 2022 | Black Pearl Elite vs. CitiTeam Blazers
- The stats: 22 points, seven assists, seven steals
John Collinsa teammate of Young’s Atlanta Hawks, made their first appearance at Drew last weekend while dressed for Black Pearl Elite. Collins scored 16 points and 12 boards, while Young finished with 22 points, seven assists and seven steals in the 103-100 loss.
Despite losing the match, Young and Collins still managed to wow the crowd with a number of standout plays, such as Young’s mid-air switch in an acrobatic layup and the ‘alley-oop off the Collins set.
3. Lou Williams
- The Game: July 16, 2017 | LAUNFD vs. Hank’s Panthers
- Stats: 50 points, 10 3 points
No NBA player has ever scored more than williams did in his first Drew League game, when LAUNFD beat the Hank Panthers, 115-69, thanks to his 50 points and 10 three-pointers. Williams first linked up with Los Angeles in 2015 when he signed a free agent contract with the Lakers.
Williams was sent back to Los Angeles in the offseason after being sent to Houston midway through the 2016-17 campaign, although this time he joined the Mowers. Williams first donned them in the Drew and was unstoppable before making his Clippers debut and later winning back-to-back Kia Sixth Man of the Year awards.
Williams had a reputation as a player who could score points quickly as a sixth man. He showed that talent at Drew, scoring both inside and outside the paint on his way to a 50-piece.
- The Game: July 14, 2018 | Hank’s Panthers vs. Birdie’s Revenge
- Stats: 38 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists
After his second NBA season, in which he averaged 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 20.7 minutes per game, Pascal Siakam made his Drew League debut in July 2018. Although he showed glimpses of his enormous talent, he was yet to experience his breakthrough season.
Siakam excelled in his Drew League opener, finishing with a whopping triple-double of 38 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists to help the Hanks Panthers defeat Birdie’s Revenge. Throughout the match, Siakam was in attack mode, heading for the basket and using his signature spinning motion to open up space.
It’s no surprise that Siakam had a breakthrough season the following year, winning the Kia Most Improved Player award and leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship.
1. Isaiah Thomas
- The Game: July 24, 2021 | BB4L against redemption
- Statistics: 37 points
Isaiah Thomas entered the pro-am circuit last summer to hone his skills and return to the NBA full-time. After two consecutive All-Star campaigns in 2016 and 2017, Thomas’ career was cut short by a hip injury.
Over the next four seasons, he appeared in a total of 87 games. He scored 37 points with BB4L in his Drew League debut last summer, showing how hard he tried. A week later, he backed that up with a record-breaking 65-point performance in the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball pro-am. League. Then, a week later, he fired a Kobe and set a record 81 points in the pro-am Crawsover, a summer league run by Jamal Crawford, another Seattle-area icon and former NBA player. During the 2021-2022 NBA season, Thomas returned and appeared in 22 games for the Lakers, Dallas Mavericksand Charlotte Hornets.
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