Almost all the specialists agreed to declare this Draft cuvée dense, with many interesting profiles. And the Summer Leagues confirmed this first impression.
With Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or even Keegan Murray who shone in Las Vegas, and also in Salt Lake City and San Francisco, beginners are arriving in force.
The Top 5 of the last Draft
Paolo Banchero (Orlando)
He only played two games, but Paolo Banchero impressed in the summer league. The No. 1 in the Draft fully assumed his status with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on average. In fact, he is even the first number 1 in the Draft to shoot at least 20 points in Las Vegas since John Wall in 2010, twelve years ago!
Dominating with his power towards the circle, Paolo Banchero did a bit of everything, confirming his “all around” talent. Between his little 180° dunk on the counter-attack or a few small shots from mid-range when turning around, the former Duke is a permanent threat in attack. Sometimes a little casual defensively, he was very sharp several times, whether in interception (5 interceptions in 2 games) and against, on Jabari Smith in particular.
Excellent near the circle with support and a range of “spin moves” already very developed, Paolo Banchero is an obvious candidate for the title of future rookie of the year. He will have free rein at the Magic who will build around him, obviously knowing that there will inevitably be a little waste, with the loss of balls which were his cute sin in Las Vegas (5 per game), and with a game which for the moment ignores the 3-point (2/4)…
Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City)
With 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks, 4 assists in 24 minutes, all at 7/9 on shots including 4/6 from 3-pointers, Chet Holmgren hit hard from the start. Deterrent to perfection with a counter record for the Utah summer league, he quickly made his mark, especially in defense but also in his relationship with Josh Giddey, the Australian leader at the wand.
This duo (which will become a trio with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) will become the major focus of the Thunder for years to come. A leader – oversized and ultra-versatile pivot combo, the Giddey – Holmgren pair has already done very well in Salt Lake City, then in Las Vegas, with 14 points (48% on shots including 42% from 3-pointers), 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks on average over five games for the former Gonzaga.
Unicorn 2.0, Chet Holmgren has everything to succeed offensively, with his outside shooting quality and his ability to dribble to create for himself or his teammates.
That said, and as the cubic Kenneth Lofton has forcefully demonstrated, he will also suffer defensively against the heavier Big League players. If his ability to defend the circle vertically is no longer to be demonstrated, nor even his ability to switch to “small”, the n°2 of the Draft will have to prove that he can fight in the battle of heavyweights on rebounds and in duels.
Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston)
Disappointment would be a big word for the Rockets’ rookie interior, but with 14 points (38% on shots including 26% from 3-pointers), 9 rebounds and 2 assists per game (over five games), Jabari Smith Jr. didn’t really show its best face in Vegas. He was awarded the mention “Pretty well, can do better“.
Still clumsy in shooting with a tendency to take contested shots, Jabari Smith complicated the task and he simply forced. In his defense, the volatile and individualistic context of the summer league is really not to his advantage, he who still needs open shots and a more structured game to shine.
But the former Auburn still recalled why he was drafted in 3rd choice in defense, with a superb counter at the top on Greg Brown in particular. Mobile enough to hold up against faster outsiders and tough enough to take the knocks in the paint, Smith has what it takes to dominate the “All Defensive Teams” in the future.
Keegan Murray (Sacramento)
Author of 26 points (at 10/14 on shots including 4/5 from 3-pointers), 8 rebounds for a very clean start, Keegan Murray is the unofficial MVP of the sumer leagues. After shooting 20 points and 8 rebounds in San Francisco, he followed up with 23 points (50% on shots including 40% from 3-pointers), 7 rebounds, 2 average assists (4 games) in Las Vegas.
By being clutch in addition, with his 3-point shot to snatch the extension against Orlando. Thanks to his good performances, the Kings have (for the moment) largely dampened the criticisms which had followed their choice in favor of Keegan Murray, rather than Jaden Ivey for example. A real 3-point trigger, the former Iowa player is also able to create his shot at mid-distance and up to the circle with his wingspan.
Between De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, he already seems to present himself as an indisputable holder in Sacramento by his versatility. His coach, Mike Brown, is already under the spell.
Jaden Ivey (Detroit)
Injured after 11 minutes in his second match, Jaden Ivey was mowed down in midair in Las Vegas. Author of a good first game with 20 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds against Portland, he had shown a good sample of his range of explosive and complete “combo guard”.
Unfortunately, he was injured when he landed on the ankle of Isaiah Todd of the Wizards after a 3-point attempt. The former Purdue still finished with 15 points (50% on shots including 50% from 3-pointers), 4 assists, 3 rebounds in 19 minutes on his very brief summer appearance. And according to the statements of the person concerned, this injury was not serious.
Still confusing speed and haste for his first match, Jaden Ivey will need time to channel his energy, like Westbrooks or Morant before him. But, with Cade Cunningham in his ear, and a very young team around him, he should learn at high speed.
The good surprises
Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana)
The Pacers’ highest Draft choice since the “Flying Dutchman”, Rik Smits in 1988, Bennedict Mathurin is certainly not expected as the Messiah in Indiana. But the prolific scorer from Arizona this season is clearly seen as a centerpiece for the future of his franchise, and probably a holder from the start of the next school year.
A real threat beyond the arc, the young Canadian international can sanction his opponent in penetration by not being afraid of contact en route to the circle. Complete attacker, he does not leave his part to the dog in defense either. With 19 points and 4 rebounds, he was quite convincing at 49% success overall (but a small 38% from 3-pointers), but he is still quite one-dimensional.
He also did not play as much as expected, with a small glitch in the big toe of his left foot which forced him to draw the curtain prematurely (only three games).
Jalen Williams (Oklahoma City)
Like Chet Holmgren taking advantage of Giddey on pick & roll (and pick & pop), Jalen Williams too has found an ideal partner in the Australian Thunder point guard. Their thing is the backdoor pass on the baseline. Facing the Rockets, Jalen Williams finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds, stuffed with good balls but above all rewarded with his inspired cuts.
Even if he was drafted just after him, Jalen Williams already seems to have outdone the French rookie, Ousmane Dieng in the possible hierarchy for the coming season. More physically solid with a big rebounding presence and simply more complete, he will have a good part to play in the OKC project.
Chosen in 17th position when he left LSU, Tari Eason was not necessarily expected at such a party. But with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals per game, he was one of the best players on his Rockets team. In the style of the summer league, he was in his element, he who tends to play for his apple.
But, very big athlete and hyper active, Tari Eason will have a say in the rotation of the Rockets, and this, in an interesting rookie vintage alongside TyTy Washington and Jabari Smith.
Jabari Walker (Portland)
Samaki Walker’s son fell very low on Draft night. Selected penultimate (just before Hugo Besson), Jabari Walker is now one of the big winners of the Summer League.
With 12 points (at 63% success including 43% from 3-pointers), 9 rebounds and 1 against on average, the rookie interior of the Blazers was the ideal teammate under the panels. Tireless on rebounds, he also showed great skills behind the arc. A very good pick for Portland who hastened to offer him a contract over several seasons.
Credits: Ochai Agbaji (Cleveland – 15 points on 37% shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists); Jalen Duren (Detroit – 11 points on 62% shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block); Dalen Terry (Chicago – 12 points on 58% shooting, 3 assists, 3 rebounds); Malaki Branham (San Antonio – 15 points on 43% on shots including 42% on 3-pointers, 4 rebounds); Christian Brown (Denver – 12 points on 30% shooting, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals); Mar Jon Beauchamp (Milwaukee – 13 points on 43% shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists)
Johnny Davis (Washington)
Limited to three games because of lower back pain, Johnny Davis ended his quick lap in Vegas with small averages: 7 points, 4 rebounds and less than 2 assists per game, in 24 minutes.
At 29% on shots and 33% from 3-pointers, the 10th choice of the last Draft did not make Wizards fans dream. As always, these performances of Summer League are clearly not gospel, but Johnny Davis is going to have to get back in shape by training camp.
Credits: Mark Williams (Charlotte – 7 points at 44% on shots, 7 rebounds); Wendell Moore (Minnesota – 12 points at 35% on shots including 25% from 3-pointers, 4 rebounds, 2 assists); Ousmane Dieng (Oklahoma City – 9 points on 34% shooting including 20% from 3-pointers, 5 rebounds, 2 assists); Jake LaRavia (Memphis – 5 points at 38% on shots including 30% from 3-pointers, 3 rebounds, 2 assists); Max Christie (LA Lakers – 7 points on 27% on shots including 20% on 3-pointers, 5 rebounds).
Dyson Daniels (New Orleans)
Chosen in 8th position by the Pelicans after a transition season with the Ignite, Dyson Daniels could only play 8 minutes before twisting his right ankle on a layup against Portland. The bad luck! With 1 point at 0/5 on shots, 2 assists and 1 interception, the 19-year-old Australian would have hoped for a better start on the NBA scene.
Author of a campaign with 11 points, 4 assists and 2 steals in the G-League last season, Dyson Daniels will be part of Willie Green’s rotation in Louisiana. This delay in ignition should not harm him too much in Pelicans again ambitious this season.
Shaedon Sharpe (Portland)
Enigmatic by his unusual career, Shaedon Sharpe was expected at the turn in Vegas since he did not play this season. Drafted in 7th position by the Blazers, the scoring back was unfortunately only able to defend his chances for five minutes, injured in the left shoulder in his first game.
Just like Jaden Ivey and Dyson Daniels hit them in the ankle, he couldn’t stretch his legs and offer us his fluid and racy offensive game. It’s only a postponement but it’s above all a good wasted opportunity to adjust to the NBA.
Jeremy Sochan (San Antonio)
The only player in the Top 10 of the last Draft not to put on the shorts and the chasuble, Jeremy Sochan caught the Covid at the wrong time. After missing a week of training, Spurs took the lead in turning him into an assistant.
Considered a defender with elite potential, the former Baylor will therefore be a surprise at the next return to a San Antonio team that is still rebuilding. Without great certainty…