Summer League Day 2: Keyonte George Takeover
It’s just Summer League. That’s vital to remember. Many players shine here and never amount to anything in the NBA. Others are awful here, causing you to question your favorite team’s GM. Then, they become superstars. There can be conclusions drawn, but it’s important to not overreact. It’s just Summer League.
With that being said, Keyonte George? Superstar. Cason Wallace? The missing piece for the Thunder. Orlando Robinson? Future of the center position. See, it’s fun to do! Unfortunately, it doesn’t lead to the most reliable fantasy information. We’ll dive into a few performances from each game, but keep checking out these columns daily throughout Summer League to get the full scoop on what matters in Vegas.
Heat 99, Celtics 88
A tale as old as time. An undrafted player starring for the Heat, and Orlando Robinson could be the next one. He played a role off the bench for Miami during his rookie season at times, but when the playoffs started, he was out of the rotation. He was decent in his two Summer League games in Sacramento, but he started off Vegas with a bang. He dominated the Celtics with a 36/11/4 line that also included two blocks and three 3-pointers. It would be a huge plus for the Heat if they found a backup center for Bam Adebayo. Jaime Jaquez missed this game due to a right shoulder injury, but the Heat were able to rely on Nikola Jovic (14/6/3/2/1), Dru Smith (16/5/7/3), Drew Peterson (13 points) and Jamal Cain (10 points, 7 rebounds) for some offensive contributions.
After making a million trades during the draft, Boston ended up making one pick: Jordan Walsh. In their first Summer League game, Walsh led the team with 18 points and also added five rebounds, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers. Walsh was a five-star high school recruit, but he really struggled in his lone season at Arkansas, especially from deep. That resulted in him slipping to the second round, but if he is able to knock down shots from beyond the arc, he could end up as one of the steals of the draft. Justin Champagnie wasn’t able to replicate his brother’s Summer League success, as he shot just 3-for-13 from the floor, but he was able to come away with 11 rebounds. J.D. Davison recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists. Jay Scrubb scored 17 points, and Justin Bean added 13 points. Solid games for them, but it’s unlikely that any of them are on Boston’s roster next season.
Thunder 91, Mavs 80
Cason Wallace was finally able to make his Summer League debut after the trade became official, and he signed his contract. He got right to work, leading the Thunder with 20 points and six 3-pointers in his first game. I didn’t love his landing spot, but it seems that he’ll be able to mold his game to fit alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. Wallace can play with the ball in his hands, but he showed that he can be just as effective in an off-ball role in this game. Chet Holmgren also continued to play well in Summer League as he posted a 16/10/3/1/2 line. He only has a few games under his belt since his foot injury, so he should only continue to be more and more dominant. Ousmane Dieng (13/5/3/1), Jaylin Williams (9/7/3/2/1) and Tre Mann (11 points) were also solid in this game.
It was the Jaden Hardy show in this game, and he took full advantage of the situation. He scored a game-high 24 points on 8-for-18 shooting with four 3-pointers. Hardy hasn’t seen a shot he doesn’t like, and when it’s going in, he’s effective. That earned him time last season when Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving were hurt, and he became part of their permanent rotation. Neither Dereck Lively nor Olivier Maxence-Prosper played a large role in this game, which meant they didn’t really get a chance to shine. Hopefully they’ll be able to play larger roles against the 76ers on Monday.
76ers 110, Knicks 101
There were two teams that didn’t make a draft pick during the 2023 draft: the Knicks and the 76ers. That makes the fantasy upside from this game limited. Both teams had seven players score in double figures, with the 76ers led by Jaden Springer (23) and DaQuan Jeffries (20) leading the Knicks.
Pistons 89, Magic 78
Ausar Thompson was supposed to be the headliner for the Pistons in this game, but he ended up playing more of a backseat role. He finished with a 7/9/3/1/3 line and flashed his potential at times, but he didn’t get much of a chance to put up big numbers. Jaden Ivey soaked up the majority of touches on offense, taking 19 shots and turning it over six times. He posted a 14/5/4/5 line, so it wasn’t all bad, but there were plenty of negatives from his performance. Jalen Duren added 17 points and eight rebounds and even added a 3-pointer after not even taking one as a rookie. James Wiseman recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, however, Duren should be the starter over him during the regular season, so he likely won’t get to be an effective fantasy option this season.
Like Detroit, Orlando has plenty of lottery talent on their team. Anthony Black shined with a 17/5/5/3 line, though he had seven turnovers. It wasn’t a perfect debut, but there was plenty to like out of his performance. They also selected Jett Howard in the lottery, and while he didn’t have a great shooting performance (3-for-12 FGs), he was able to flash his upside as a scorer. Despite those two, it was Kevon Harris that stole the show, as he led the way with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting. There’s no guarantees, but if he keeps performing like this, he may end up in their rotation.
Grizzlies 87, Bulls 80
Neither of these teams had a pick in the first round, but there is still some sneaky value to be had. Kenneth Lofton Jr. led the Grizzlies in scoring with 23 points, and he’ll continue to dominate Summer League games. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that he ever becomes a real contributor in fantasy. Jake LaRavia has the upside to become a fantasy asset, but he struggled in this game and only shot 3-for-13 from the floor. G.G. Jackson ended up hitting three 3-pointers late in the game to help give them the win, and he was even able to record his first assist of Summer League! Progress!
Dalen Terry scored 17 points, but he shot 5-for-21 from the floor. He didn’t play much as a rookie despite being selected in the first round, but he has a chance to really show his offensive game this summer. Hopefully, he’ll be able to shoot better in their future games in Vegas. Julian Phillips played in his first Summer League game after being Chicago’s only draft pick this past season. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well at all for him, and he finished with just two points in 24 minutes. Javon Freeman-Liberty, who spent last season with the Windy City Bulls, ended up leading the Bulls in scoring with 24 points. A great game for him, but it’s going to be difficult for him to make their roster.
Pacers 91, Wizards 83
The 1996 Bulls. The 2017 Warriors. The Summer League Pacers. What do these teams have in common? They’re among the greatest ever. This Indiana squad is stacked this summer, and they were led by Bennedict Mathurin, who scored a game-high 27 points. It wasn’t a perfect performance from him, but Mathurin has so much upside as a scorer, as he displayed in this game. Isaiah Jackson will once again be stuck behind Myles Turner this season, but he showed his potential as a starter in this game. He finished with a 21/14/1/1/3 on 10-for-12 shooting. Andrew Nembhard didn’t shine in the box score (14 points, eight assists, eight turnovers), but it was evident that he is too good to be playing in Summer League. There’s a real chance that he starts this season, but if he doesn’t, he’s going to be an incredibly reliable sixth man. Jarace Walker also made his debut for the Pacers and shined with an 8/13/5/3/3 line. He should start this season, and if this first game was any indication, he’s going to be excellent for fantasy.
Washington selected Bilal Couliably with the seventh pick after swapping with the Pacers to get their guy. In his debut for them, Coulibaly finished with just nine points on 4-for-13 shooting to go with four rebounds. It wasn’t the flashy debut that some of the other top ten picks provided, but he did show some potential, especially on the defensive end. Johnny Davis scored 17 points on 8-for-18 shooting, which was encouraging to see after he spent the majority of his rookie season in the G-League. He should get a real chance to play this season, since Washington should be firmly in the lottery race. We’ll get to see what kind of player Davis is this season. We also got to see Patrick Baldwin suit up for Washington after he was traded along with Jordan Poole. He finished with 13 points in his first game as a Wizard.
Bucks 84, Suns 75
This summer in Vegas is going to be all about MarJon Beauchamp for the Bucks. He played a role for Milwaukee early last season, but as they got healthier, Beauchamp’s role dwindled. He’s been an offensive force through two games, and that will likely continue, since there aren’t many other scorers on their team this summer. Tyler Cook, Tacko Fall and Chris Livingston all scored in double figures, but none of them will make an impact in fantasy this season.
Phoenix was able to make one draft pick a few weeks ago, and it was pick 52. That doesn’t usually lead to fantasy value, but they may have gotten a steal in Toumani Camara. The rookie fits a role that they need. He provided energy and effort and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. He has a real chance at earning minutes as a rookie. The only other player on this team that will be on their roster during the regular season is Jordan Goodwin, and he posted a 12/3/4/2 line in this game. He’ll be a depth piece for them, which probably won’t lead to much fantasy potential this season.
Jazz 105, Clippers 99
Heading into the fourth quarter, Keyonte George was having a solid game. He had 16 points entering the final period, where he absolutely took over. He scored 17 of his 33 points in the fourth, and he was also able to add 10 assists. We haven’t been able to see Taylor Hendricks or Brice Sensabaugh play yet, but it seems like Danny Ainge got it right with George. Ochai Agbaji also shined in this game with a 21/9/5/1/2 line. Utah will have plenty of young options on the wing moving forward, as Johnny Juzang also added 13 points in this one. Micah Potter was also solid with 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but he likely won’t be able to crack their rotation.
The Clippers have been so focused on building around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, so they haven’t really been able to add many young pieces. Still, they had some solid performances in this game. Xavier Moon led the way by scoring 21 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to nearly pull off a comeback. Jason Preston also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Unfortunately, like the rest of their Summer League roster, neither of those guys will be able to crack the Clippers’ rotation this season.