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2022 NBA Summer League: Rookie Notes

Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

NBA Summer League wrap-up notes on the 2022 rookie class.

  • Paolo Banchero definitely looked worthy of the #1 selection by the Orlando Magic at Summer League. His strength, scoring, and playmaking have the potential to lead the Magic in PPG & APG as a rookie (which is a heavy burden). So I think that stamina and consistency will be two big areas for him throughout the grind of an 82 game season.
  • The #2 pick/recently injured Chet Holmgren had a great summer league in Salt Lake City & Las Vegas. He pretty much has it all. I could go on and on about his attributes: the ball handling, the size, the shooting, the shot blocking, the basketball IQ, etc. Chet will probably be one of the league leaders in BPG every year once he gets healthy, but I think contesting without fouling/getting overpowered will be issues for him. So I hope that he continues to work on his strength while he’s sidelined.
  • Jabari Smith’s versatile defense was on full display back in July. The #3 pick made up for his low shooting numbers by guarding every team’s best player. Not to mention, #17 pick Tari Eason brings the same fire as Jabari on D. So I see the defense of Smith, Eason, and Alperen Sengun becoming pretty special in a few years for Houston.
  • Once the Sacramento Kings selected Keegan Murray over Jaden Ivey (5th pick by Detroit) with the #4 selection, the chatter started about if Murray was actually worthy of being the 4th pick. However, Keegan shut up everyone fast, winning MVP of the 2k23 Summer League in Las Vegas. Ivey looked great as well, but now that we can kinda trust that Murray will be fine (I know it’s just summer league), the debate of Murray vs. Ivey is one that should take a lot longer than just a few seasons to figure out who’s better.
  • #6 pick Bennedict Mathurin balled out in Vegas, scoring the ball at ease with his shooting and athleticism. Indiana’s roster lacks a legit scorer. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Mathurin actually leads the Pacers in PPG as a rookie (just like Banchero’s situation with the Magic’s roster). 
  • Unfortunately, #7 pick Shaedon Sharpe (Portland), #8 pick Dyson Daniels (New Orleans), #9 pick Jeremy Sochan (San Antonio), #16 pick AJ Griffin (Atlanta), #22 pick Walker Kessler (Utah), #28 pick Patrick Baldwin (Golden State), #36 pick Gabriele Procida (Detroit), #39 pick Khalifa Diop (Cleveland), #41 pick EJ Liddell (New Orleans), #44 pick Ryan Rollins (Golden State), #52 pick Karlo Matkovic (New Orleans), and #54 pick Yannick Nzosa (Washington) either went down early or didn’t play at all.
  • #27 pick Nikola Jovic showed flashes of his exciting potential during the California Classic before only appearing in one game at the 2k23 Summer League due to injury. Based on Miami’s deep roster and the number of other areas he needs to work on besides just scoring (most notably his strength and motor), I’d say he doesn’t play much at all during his rookie year. Although, his skillset and the Miami Heat culture are a perfect combination for a bright future if he continues to develop.
  • #10 pick Johnny Davis shot the ball poorly, which probably didn’t help him going into a rookie season where he’s gonna have to battle for minutes on a talented roster. Seeing what his role will be on the Wizards/how he progresses should be interesting.
  • #11 pick Ousmane Dieng and #12 pick Jalen Williams showed off impressive confidence. Both rookies have a very smooth feel for the game. Dieng’s Eurostep and Williams’ cutting ability are two underrated skills I didn’t know they had.
  • #13 pick Jalen Duren quickly proved that he should have been drafted higher. I just don’t get how he wasn’t a top 10 pick based on his body/skillset at his age (18-years-old). The way he runs pick & roll, the timing on his blocked shots, the powerful finishes, the passing ability. I could keep going. 
  • #14 pick Ochai Agbaji getting traded to the Utah Jazz should help his development process more than being with the Cavs. He can work on other areas he needs to improve like playmaking, instead of just being a 3&D rookie off the bench.
  • #15 pick Mark Williams is gonna have to work hard and stay locked in, as other young bigs like Nick Richards & Kai Jones are already on Charlotte’s roster/have the experience over him. All three averaged around 20 MPG at summer league, so I’m curious to see who gets more minutes during the season.
  • #18 pick Dalen Terry (Chicago), #19 pick Jake LaRavia (Memphis), #21 pick Christian Braun (Denver), #23 pick David Roddy (Memphis), #24 pick MarJon Beauchamp (Milwaukee), #29 pick TyTy Washington (Houston), and #30 pick Peyton Watson (Denver) all displayed attributes that should help them turn into successful NBA role players.
  • It wouldn’t surprise me if #20 pick Malaki Branham & #25 pick Blake Wesley end up becoming the starting backcourt in San Antonio one day. Both of them scored the ball in ways that you can’t teach, as Branham’s footwork, off the dribble moves, and jumper were silky smooth while Wesley brought an explosive first step, tough finishing ability, and trusted ball handling.
  •  #26 pick Wendell Moore Jr. (Minnesota), #31 pick Andrew Nembhard (Indiana), #32 pick Caleb Houstan (Orlando), #34 pick Jaylin Williams (OKC), #35 pick Max Christie (LA Lakers), #37 pick Jaden Hardy (Dallas), #38 pick Kennedy Chandler (Memphis), #40 pick Bryce McGowens (Charlotte), #42 pick Trevor Keels (New York), #45 pick Josh Minott (Minnesota), #47 pick Vince Williams (Memphis), and #49 pick Isaiah Mobley (Cleveland) all didn’t shoot the ball well, but I love their talent. Like most young guys, efficiency will play a major factor in reaching their potential as NBA players. 
  • #33 pick Christian Koloko (Toronto) & #43 pick Moussa Diabate (LA Clippers) are two Second Round rookie big men who showed off some very solid fundamentals, as their shot blocking and finishing at the rim raised eyebrows in Las Vegas.
  • Obviously they’re gonna have to keep working hard and be patient, but late Second Round picks such as Indiana’s Kendall Brown (#48 pick), Atlanta’s Tyrese Martin (#51 pick), Boston’s JD Davison (#53 pick), Golden State’s Gui Santos (#55 pick), and Portland’s Jabari Walker (#57 pick) looked like First Round talents to me at summer league.
  • #46 pick Ismael Kamagate (Denver), #50 pick Matteo Spagnolo (Minnesota), #56 pick Luke Travers (Cleveland) and #58 pick Hugo Besson (Milwaukee) will return overseas for the 2022-23 season after appearing in summer league. I don’t think any of them are ready for the NBA yet anyway. So it’s a good move for their development. 
  • Here’s a list of my top undrafted rookie performances from summer league: Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Memphis), Tommy Kuhse (Orlando), Daeqwon Plowden (New Orleans), Collin Gillespie (Denver), Darius Days (San Antonio), Jean Montero (New York), Michael Foster (Philadelphia), Justin Lewis (Chicago), Gabe Brown (OKC), Stanley Umude (Detroit), Adonis Arms (Denver), Quenton Jackson (Washington), Scotty Pippen Jr. (LA Lakers), Tyson Etienne (Atlanta), Trevion Williams (Boston), Lester Quinones (Golden State), Terrell Brown Jr. (Minnesota), Dom Barlow (San Antonio), Jared Rhoden (Sacramento), John Butler (New Orleans), Orlando Robinson (Miami), Keon Ellis (Sacramento), Cole Swider (LA Lakers), Dereon Seabron (New Orleans), Alondes Williams (Brooklyn), Kofi Cockburn (Utah), Ron Harper Jr. (Toronto), Makur Maker (Chicago), AJ Green (Milwaukee), Charlie Moore (Detroit), Javante McCoy (LA Lakers), Ronaldo Segu (Memphis), Jamal Cain (Miami), David McCormak (Minnesota), Jaden Shackelford (OKC), Jeriah Horne (Sacramento), Josh Carlton (San Antonio), Jules Bernard (Detroit), Iverson Molinar (Milwaukee), Buddy Boeheim (Detroit), and Ryan Hawkins (Golden State/Toronto).
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