For the second offseason in a row, an unexpected sneaker brand emerged to dominate the conversation heading into the NBA draft and summer league.
Last summer, it was Lonzo Ball's unique Big Baller Brand venture and his eventual musical-chairs approach to playing in a different sneaker in each game of his run to being named 2017 Summer League MVP. This year, Puma Basketball's re-entry into the NBA for the first time in two decades caused a stir, with big-name signings and the announcement that Jay-Z would be serving as creative director.
With the brand signing the top two picks in Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III, along with midteen selections Michael Porter Jr. and Zhaire Smith, the Puma relaunch was off to a strong start as the rookies looked to make their mark in summer league.
"I chose Puma because I wanted to be different," Bagley said just before the draft. "I saw an opportunity where I could come in and build from the jump and work to get to a certain level."
Wearing the new Clyde Court Disrupt in a gleaming red and yellow colorway, Bagley's sneakers surely stood out. While the NBA has a series of sneaker guidelines during the regular season, there are actually no color restrictions at all during the summer, making for some vibrant and mismatched pairs hitting the floor in Las Vegas.
Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox took advantage and wore yellow sneakers, Derrick Jones Jr. sported a mint-accented pair of vintage Kevin Durant sneakers with his Heat jersey, while Dennis Smith Jr. debuted Under Armour's newest HOVR Havoc team shoe in bright orange, sharply contrasting with the Mavericks' muted tones.
That fine during the season real �� https://t.co/ttUtenlcwr
- De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) July 8, 2018
With Bagley, Ayton and Trae Young dominating the shoe-deal headlines around the draft, big men Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mo Bamba remain the highest-drafted players still looking for a sneaker deal. Bamba donned a white and gold edition of Stephen Curry's latest Curry 5 signature model from Under Armour, along with Nike's low-top Hyperdunk model. Jackson became the first NBA player to play in the KD 11, beating out Kevin Durant to an on-court debut of his newest shoe, while also playing in James Harden's latest Adidas sneaker.
Check out all of the best sneakers worn during summer league and vote for your favorite pair in the poll below: