NBA Summer League: How every top rookie fared in Las Vegas

NBA Summer League: How every top rookie fared in Las Vegas

This article is part of our NBA Offseason series.

The 2022 NBA Summer League has come to an end. It's been a full week since the Trail Blazers defeated the Knicks to be crowned Summer League Champions. Keegan Murray, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, took home MVP honors following a consistently impressive performance in the desert. 

While it continues to grow into a larger and larger spectacle with each passing year, at the end of the day Summer League is all about player and team development. With that in mind, let's look into how each of the top players in the 2022 Draft class performed throughout Summer League play.

Paolo Banchero, Magic

Summer League stats: 20.0 points, 40.7 FG% (5.0-13.5 FG), 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, 5.0 TO

Orlando saw enough from Banchero to shut him down after only two Summer League appearances. His ceiling as a franchise centerpiece is apparent. Banchero's 6-foot-10 frame, combined with his quickness and offensive repertoire, is already a problem for defenders. He averaged a whopping 10.0 free throw attempts per game in his limited work. His passing and court vision translated immediately. Banchero could push for the occasional triple-double throughout the season. 

Shaky guard play from Orlando's backcourt could clog space and dominate the ball at times, but as the season wears on, look for playmaking duties to shift more and more Banchero's way. He'll have his fair share of turnovers and inefficient nights also, but Banchero has the making of a star.

Chet Holmgren, Thunder

Summer League stats: 14.0 points, 47.9 FG% (4.6-9.6 FG), 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assist, 1.6 steals, 2.8 blocks, 2.8 TO

Through the first five days of Summer League, Holmgren emerged as the leader in total rebounds (37) and blocks (14). There were moments when he was bullied in the paint. There were moments when his ball-handling looked a little shaky.

Nonetheless, he made a giant impact on both ends in each game. Holmgren showcased some one-on-one moves and fluidity off the dribble. The sample size on shooting from three-point range was respectable (42.1 percent on 3.8 3PA/G) and impressive. Given his two-way impact and potential to be a high-volume shot-blocker and three-point threat, Holmgren projects as a high-floor rookie asset.

Jabari Smith, Rockets

Summer League stats: 14.4 points, 37.7 FG% (5.2-13.8 FG), 9.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.4 blocks, 2.2 TO

Lost in the noise about lackluster abilities to create for himself, Smith displayed quality switchable defense and top-tier length. That length is huge on defense, as well as for finishing around the rim. 

The aforementioned noise is slightly odd. Evaluators and seasoned fans knew that playmaking was the major area for growth when he left Auburn. Realistically, nothing in his skill set has changed since Auburn's season has ended. 

Despite shooting just 25.9 percent on 5.4 three-point attempts per game, the shot-making abilities are still elite. By the end of Summer League, Smith was visibly dejected. If he doesn't have the chip on his shoulder, that's another issue, but it feels like he does. Smith is going to look significantly better surrounded by NBA mainstays on a frequent basis. In fairness, NBA defenses will provide a new set of growing pains. 

Hold the faith -- these growing pains aren't catastrophic for a good rookie campaign -- Jalen Green was lackluster for the first two-thirds of 2021-22. Developmental concerns aside, Smith remains an active rebounder and disruptive defender. 

Keegan Murray, Kings

Summer League stats: 21.7 points, 50.5 FG% (7.4-14.7 FG), 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks, 2.6 TO

The numbers aren't lying. Murray is polished, ready for a hearty role and equipped to provide valuable scoring output. The Iowa product's 51/41/84 shooting line was sublime, and he was deservingly the Summer League MVP. Leading all participants with 31.9 minutes per game, Murray is an emerging leader with a ton of poise.

Heavily shooting threes thus far (7.3 3PA/G), Murray balancing out those attempts is a trend to monitor. His development as a three-level scorer holds major appeal. Depending on the lineups Sacramento utilizes, Murray's ceiling as a rebounder may be underrated -- he was a two-way different maker on the glass at Iowa. 

Jaden Ivey, Pistons

Summer League stats: 15.5 points, 50.0 FG% (4.0-8.0 FG), 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 2.5 TO

Ivey (ankle) is on the mend after suffering a sprain early in Detroit's second Summer League contest.

Prior to the injury, Ivey had excelled at getting to the free-throw line, knocking down 12-of-12 attempts. He was driving to the hoop at will. Across his 37 total dminutes played, Ivey recorded seven assists and five turnovers. Turnovers will be an issue during his rookie season, but Ivey's upside in the long-term is sky-high. 

Bennedict Mathurin, Pacers

Summer League stats: 19.3 points, 48.8 FG% (6.7-13.7 FG), 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, 0.7 TO

Collecting four assists and two turnovers over three games, Mathurin's existence as a scorer has been solidified. With that said, his assists-per-game average climbed from 1.2 to 2.5 from his freshman to sophomore year at Arizona, so steady growth as a passer can be a future expectation. As a rookie, volume scoring should be the expectation. Proving success in creating off-the-dribble against NBA competition still looms.

Mathurin was able to get anywhere he wanted against Summer League defenses. He displayed tough shot making and trademark athleticism. Starting point guard Tyrese Haliburton is an elite facilitator who will maximize Mathurin as a cutter and beat rotating defenses. Mathurin is a dark-horse Rookie of the Year candidate (10/1 at DraftKings).  

Johnny Davis, Wizards

Summer League stats: 8.3 points, 27.6 FG% (2.7-9.7 FG), 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 2.7 TO

Throughout Summer League, Davis was utilized similarly to his Wisconsin tenure -- a lot of off-ball action via screens or cutting into the play. Dissimilar to his time as a Badger, Davis is no longer faster/bigger/stronger than the defenders guarding him. His back-to-the-basket game will need a full acclimation to NBA speed and verticality. Help defense flustered Davis offensively. His learning curve is among the biggest of any lottery pick.

However, this is the player Washington drafted. Any panic stemming from Davis' performance should be translated into patience. Plenty of very good players have struggled at Summer League, and plenty of very bad players have looked great at Summer League.

Davis is a volume-based, mid-range scorer who draws contact inside. He averaged 2.1 assists and 2.3 turnovers during his breakout sophomore season. At least for now, NBA traffic is proving harder to navigate on drives, and his lackluster playmaking just entered a new level of difficulty.  

Knocking down 33.3 percent (3-of-9) of his threes is a fine start after a 32.5 percent clip collegiately. Evolving into a 3&D profile may be Davis' best bet to stick in the league long-term. The real test will come throughout the regular season, when Davis will have to prove he can begin drawing contact and winning separation on a day-to-day basis. Monte Morris and Bradley Beal will help divert attention, but his development will likely be gradual and inefficient. 

Ousmane Dieng, Thunder

Summer League stats: 8.8 points, 34.0 FG% (3.4-10.0 FG), 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.6 TO

Dieng loves to rebound and lead the break transition. Standing at 6-foot-10, it's an enticing skill set. However, the 19-year-old remains a project. Dieng adding muscle will help on both ends of the floor. Defensively, there is future appeal. His frame already makes him a natural shot alterer. 

The aforementioned ball handling in transition has shown flashes -- he's connected on some nice passes and is succeeding on drives. He has elegance getting to the hoop. The bag is surprisingly deep.

However, Dieng cannot shoot. He hit just 20.0 percent (5-of-25 3Pt) of his threes across all of Summer League play. That was the knock on him during his days with the New Zealand Breakers, and it's now officially proven true stateside. His stats will be ugly at times as a rookie, but Dieng's ceiling is enormous.  

Jalen Williams, Thunder

Summer League stats: 11.7 points, 50.0 FG% (4.6-9.1 FG), 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.6 blocks, 1.7 TO

Williams has validated his rapid climb into the lottery. With a 7-foot-2 wingspan, he has wildly disruptive length that translates to production on both ends of the court. If he's logging 25 minutes per game he'll be a consistent source of steals/blocks. 

His athleticism has been on display in transition -- he'll rebound and lead the break or finish plays with explosive dunks and an awesome layup package. 

Across three seasons at Santa Clara, Williams became a maestro at orchestrating the pick-and-roll. Often navigating through traffic and hitting tough shots -- that will take time to translate. It certainly hasn't yet. Development of his passing and creation abilities in the half-court will be worth monitoring.

Additionally, he was a career 35.2 percent three-point shooter in college, peaking with a 39.6 percent clip on 3.2 attempts per game last season. He's been a mixed bag from beyond the arc early in his professional career, knocking down just 1-of-8 threes in Las Vegas Summer League. Improved play from Josh Giddey (1-of-14 3Pt) and chemistry with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will give Williams more room to operate. 

Jalen Duren, Pistons

Summer League stats: 11.3 points, 65.0 FG% (4.3-6.7 FG), 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.3 steals, 1.0 blocks, 0.7 TO

Outside of dunks and blocks, there was an odd amount of finesse to Duren's Summer League performances. When matched up against other bigs, Duren resorted to spin moves and jump shots -- he's very unpolished at utilizing his hulking frame. The finesse is so raw, but it looked good occasionally, featuring some crafty layups and this fake dribble hand-off: 

Ultimately, he will reach his ceiling by bullying people. The footwork and post repertoire are a work in progress. Ditto for his rebounding prowess, as he collected just 10 rebounds across 61 minutes of play in his first three contests with Detroit. Poor rebounding positioning is partially to blame.

For his lob-catching and rim running, the 18-year-old came as advertised. Defensively, he showcased a large sample size of extending out to the perimeter. Results were solid. He was beaten multiple times, but recovery speed and wild shot-altering abilities also came as advertised. As a team/help defender he looks lost at times. He'll likely be tasked with simpler assignments and more rebounding duties in-season. The starting point for the teenager is really healthy.

Ochai Agbaji, Cavaliers

Summer League stats: 15.0 points, 37.3 FG% (4.75-12.75 FG), 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 TO

Agbaji is translating his reliable, fundamental profile to the NBA. He shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc on 8.0 attempts per game -- with three-point shooting representing 62.7 percent of his total shots taken. His shooting is legit. His defense is legit also -- although he's been overzealous and out of place on help at times.

Counterintuitively, Agbaji shot better off-the-dribble than on catch-and-shoot opportunities. That's good for his well-roundedness as a shooter given that Agbaji was top-tier in spot-up looks at Kansas. 

In terms of growth, he'll need to improve shooting after off-ball action. Additionally scouts will notice that he rarely operates moving to his left. Still, count on him for above league-average three-point production this season. 

Mark Williams, Hornets

Summer League stats: 6.8 points, 44.1 FG% (3.0-6.8 FG), 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 TO

Charlotte's guards didn't maximize Williams. That being said, he displayed a troubling lack of touch offensively. Directly around the basket remains his pigeonhole -- dunks and putbacks are his core offerings offensively. 

Defensively, Williams showed a willingness to extend out to the perimeter. Defenders didn't test him much, but there should be questions about Williams competing against shifty guards throughout the regular season. Don't be surprised if he hovers around 20 minutes per game.

Tari Eason, Rockets

Summer League stats: 17.2 points 44.7 FG% (6.8-15.2 FG), 10.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.0 block, 1.8 TO

Eason is going to supply big numbers when he doesn't shoot himself onto the bench or foul out. The 21-year-old will be a source of rebounds and putback buckets all season. He's a heads-up player on both ends with serious hustle. Eason can play alongside Jabari Smith or Alperen Sengun in Houston's frontcourt -- minutes in the low-to-mid 20s seems realistic.

The three-point stroke is a work in progress. He connected on 35.9 percent of 2.4 threes per game at LSU last season. Despite connecting on just 29.4 at Summer League, he was strategically found for open corner attempts in Houston's offense. He projects to become a league-average sniper.

When he drives, it's full speed ahead. Eason isn't actionable on secondary reads and will need polish as a slasher in terms of decision making, as well driving left/using his left hand. 

Eason worked on all of the above in Summer League, while still stuffing the box score. His future is bright. 

Dalen Terry, Bulls

Summer League stats: 11.8 points, 57.6 FG% (3.8-6.6 FG), 3.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks, 3.6 TO

Terry projects in a wing and tertiary ball handle for the Bulls, with Lonzo Ball (knee), Zach LaVine, Demar DeRozan and Ayo Dosunmu due for ball handling as well.

Nonetheless, he's been running the offense in Summer League -- for a Chicago squad that is nothing to write home about. Compiling 18 turnovers versus 12 assists, Terry has been careless with the ball, but poor communication and an underwhelming supporting cast are also to blame.

Most importantly, Terry has displayed awesome shot selection and quality finishing around the basket. He's merely 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, but that's a fine start. His development as a shooter was the wild card in his draft stock, and he's on pace for subtle, impactful offensive role in Chicago. The Bulls ranked second league-wide in transition offense last season. Terry makes them even more deadly.

Quick Hits

  • Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 7 pick, is battling a small tear in his labrum -- an injury suffered in the opening minutes of Summer League's opening night. Sharpe's only made bucket was a beautiful fadeaway, turnaround jumper with nice footwork. His injury is a bummer. A polarizing prospect, his development is briefly on hold.
  • Dyson Daniels, the No. 8 pick, logged just eight minutes prior to tweaking his ankle
  • Jeremy Sochan, the No. 9 pick, didn't play due to recovering from COVID-19
  • AJ Griffin, the No. 16 pick, dud not play due to foot soreness -- and likely immense caution from Atlanta. Griffin battled knee and ankle injuries in high school and at Duke.
  • Nikola Jovic, the No. 27 pick, logged just 14 minutes in Las Vegas Summer League due to quad soreness. Playing in the Utah Summer League, Jovic was quiet in his first two games prior to booming for 25 points (9-16 FG, 5-7 3Pt) and nine rebounds against the Warriors.

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Henry Weinberg
Henry is a sports writer and analyst, specializing in NBA analysis, CBB coverage and draft prep. He's a freelance scout, passionate baseball fan, elite fantasy football player and former Butler Bulldog.
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