The 2023 NBA Summer League is underway, and the pre-Las Vegas schedule is complete. Between the California Classic and Salt Lake, 10 teams were in attendance. We've already seen Brandon Miller, but Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson and Amen Thompson are expected to debut Friday.
Below is my recap and analysis of the pre-Vegas festivities.
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Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez were Miami's two standouts. Jovic averaged 21.5 points on 52/56/80 shooting -- notably averaging 7.5 free-throw attempts. Jaquez was great from three (4-for-9) but struggled on the interior -- save for a poster dunk -- shooting just 42.9 FG% overall. Still, it was easy to see why Miami selected him. He's crafty with the ball, can score at all three levels and is a good athlete.
Both players should have a shot at earning a consistent regular-season role. Miami lost depth in the offseason, and their power forward position is weak.
Los Angeles had an exciting California Classic, with four players reaching double-digit scoring averages -- Max Christie (21.0), Jalen Hood-Schifino (17.5), Cole Swider (15.5) and Colin Castleton (14.5).
Christie was drafted 35th overall by the Lakers last year and wasn't a G League standout in 2022-23, struggling with efficiency as he did in college. This two-game sample is encouraging (54.2 FG%), but we need to see more.
Hood-Schifino bricked all his threes (0-for-9), dragging down his field-goal percentage (38.9), but it's unlikely he shoots from range that much in the NBA. His 4.0 assists per game were nice, but he also averaged 4.0 turnovers. With the Lakers retaining Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell while adding Gabe Vincent, minutes may not be easy to find for the rookie. Still, he showed off what made him worthy of the 17th overall pick -- skill finishing around the cup and vision.
Castleton signed a two-way deal with the Lakers after going unselected during this summer's draft. He's a two-way big and can pass a little, averaging 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 blocks in addition to his 14.5 points. Backup center is a weak point for the Lakers, so I'm keeping an eye on Castleton's Summer League production.
Only a trio of players appeared in all three pre-Vegas games for Memphis -- the most notable being GG Jackson. After two weak performances, the NBA's youngest player popped off for 23 points and 10 boards on Thursday, going 4-of-9 from distance. It was an encouraging performance, but I'm still relatively low on the 45th overall pick. Jackson was extremely inefficient in college and just looks stiff with the ball. But, given how thin Memphis is on the wing, he could get his fair share of opportunities.
We also got two appearances each from Kenny Lofton, Jake LaRavia and David Roddy. Roddy, who has the most NBA experience, shot horribly (28 FG%). LaRavia (37.9 FG%) and Lofton (35.5 FG%) shot better, but not what you'd hope for. Lofton at least contributed 8.5 boards, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals with just 1.5 turnovers.
Vincent Williams played the best. The 47th overall pick out of VCU last year, the wing saw only 105 minutes with the parent club but played well in the G League in 15 appearances (16.7 points on 10.3 shots, 6.9 rebounds in 30.8 minutes). He replicated those numbers almost perfectly in his two Summer League appearances, averaging 18.5 points on 10.5 shots and 8.0 rebounds in 26.6 minutes. He's worth keeping an eye on as a potential bench piece.
Philadelphia mostly showcased undrafted players, and five averaged double-digit points -- Terquavion Smith (15.7), Jaden Springer (15.3), Javonte Smart (13.3), Ricky Council (11.0), DJ Steward (10.7) and Jordan Tucker (10.0). Filip Petrusev, a draft-and-stash from 2021, also got in the mix with 9.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 22.3 minutes.
I'm not expecting any of them to make an impact this season, though Smith notably made 3.7 threes at 37.9 percent, while Smart shot 59.3 FG%, handed out 3.7 assists with 1.0 turnovers and averaged 1.7 steals. Springer struggled with his shot (33.3 FG%) but made a defensive impact (3.0 STL, 1.0 BLK) and was strong in the G League last season. I'm keeping a light eye on him, but his ceiling is being capped by shaky three-point shooting.
Victor Wembanyama is saving his talents for Las Vegas, so it was the...Julian Champagnie show? The undrafted forward out of St. John's spent the second half of last season with the Spurs, where he quietly averaged 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds on dead-eye 40.7 percent shooting from deep. Champagnie is still hot, going 10-for-22 from deep in Summer League so far, and his aggression (8.0 FTA/g) was also encouraging en route to 29.0 PPG. He could work his way into a consistent backup role this season.
Dominick Barlow -- 13.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 3.5 stocks -- and Blake Wesley -- 13.0 PPG, 6.5 APG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 STL -- played well, too. But, all three players were part of San Antonio's tanking efforts last season, so they all have plenty of NBA experience.
The highest-drafted player of the 2023 class to participate in pre-Vegas festivities, Brandon Miller was a mixed bag in his two appearances. He was passive, averaging just 12.0 PPG on 7.5 FGA. I like his 5.0 APG, but that also came with 5.0 TOV, and wing committed 15 total personal fouls. There's no need to panic, but he needs to clean things up and look for his shot more in Sin City.
James Bouknight averaged 9.0 points on 38.9 FG% with 2.5 TOV and 1.0 APG. His career is on the line this season.
Quinones stole the show, going 10-for-17 on threes and averaging 23.5 PPG on 56.3 FG% overall. The 6-foot-4 guard was the G League's 2023 Most Improved Player, averaging 20.2 PPG and hitting 2.9 threes per game for Santa Cruz. Keep an eye on him throughout the remainder of Summer League.
Podziemski was the Warriors' No. 19 overall pick this summer, and his first two professional games saw him average 14.5 points on 48/33/50 shooting, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals. He showed off his three-and-D ability and looked comfortable making multiple moves with the ball in his hands.
Santos averaged 18.5 points on 55/36/82 shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He was good in the G League last year, but I'd be surprised if he saw any action for the Warriors this year.
We get it Keegan; you're an NBA player. Murray was apparently bored and wanted to hoop, so what better place to do that than the California Classic? He averaged 35 PPG and went 9-for-20 from three. What the media won't tell you is he had one assist and eight turnovers. None of it matters to me. Someone as good as him should average 30 per game if they were given that sort of absurd green light.
Honestly, he took so many shots that it ruined the evaluation for everyone else on the roster. They were just there to pass him the ball and rebound for him. I hope Murray at least took Neemias Queta and Jordan Ford out for dinner.
Chet Holmgren is back! Unsurprisingly, he was monstrous on the glass (10.0 RPG) and on defense (3.5 BLK and 1.0 STL) -- we all saw the highlights on Twitter. But the other side of the ball was unpolished. He missed all five of his threes and shot just 40.9 FG% for 12.5 PPG. He also had nine turnovers to three assists.
I'm still worried about his frame. On one of his blocks, a dunk attempt from an opponent, the mid-air collision looked like it rearranged Holmgren's internal organs. It sort of unnerves me watching him play sometimes. I understand he's been playing with this frame his whole life, and the OKC training staff obviously thinks he's fine to play, but I just can't shake the concern. For his own protection, the NBA should allow/force him to take metabolic steroids.
Tre Mann was the best player on the floor for OKC, but he's also played 2,600 minutes in the NBA -- he doesn't need to be in Summer League.
Ousmane Dieng is the other primary notable that saw action in Salt Lake. He was last year's No. 11 overall pick and split time between the NBA and G League. His performances were a mixed bag, and he averaged a modest 13.0 points on 11.0 shots, 6.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks, but 4.3 turnovers. I wouldn't bank on Dieng being a meaningful rotation player this year.
Ochai Agbaji probably didn't need to play, but he was deployed for all three games and given a Keegan-Murray-esque green light. The sharpshooter averaged 19.0 points on 18.7 shots, making 4.0 threes per game on 41.4 percent from distance. His 9.0 rebounds are of little consequence, and he averaged just 1.7 assists to 4.3 turnovers.
Who I care about the most is Keyonte George -- and Taylor Hendricks, but he didn't play due to a hamstring issue. George was the 16th overall pick this summer and did well passing Agbaji the ball (4.3 APG) while scoring an efficient 15.7 PPG on 12.3 shots. However, that efficiency was primarily due to effectiveness at the free-throw line, converting 82.4% of his 5.7 attempts per game. He shot 37.8 FG% and 29.5 3P%. There's no reason to think George won't be in the mix for backup guard minutes.
The following three players all fit into the same category -- too good for the G League, not good enough for the NBA. Those players are Luka Samanic, Johnny Juzang and Vernon Carey. The trio had decent Summer League performances, but all averaged 20 PPG in the G League last year. If the Jazz were tanking instead of retooling, those guys could get in the mix. But Utah figures to be competitive again, and the roster isn't that shallow.