July 8, 2022, 2:47 pm
Buzzin or Buzzkill in the Beehive State
Greetings once again, hoop junkies! Welcome back to the Summer League series for the dedicated fan tuning into games this offseason as a scouting tool prior to your next fantasy basketball season. If you did not know, Utah is known as the Beehive state thanks to the state’s roots with how bees symbolize hard work, industry and community in the Salt Lake Valley of the 1800s. The state flag and capitol building even have many references to bees. At Vivint Area from July 5th-7th, young NBA players and hopefuls showed out with a first impression either as a buzzin’ bee or a buzzkill for their respective fanbases. As a preview right off of the bat: Thunder fans have quite a lot to be hyped about after these three games. One more note is that NBA veteran (drafted in 2014) Bruno Caboclo actually played quite well in Vivint Arena, showing that he may still have some stuff left in his tank for Jazz to use in the post-Rudy Gobert era. He probably could have been the third buzzin’ player on this list — but given how many opportunities he has had, let us leave it at an appreciation for his unexpected waves during the 2022 Summer League.
I want to provide you with another Summer League success story example that hits home for the Jazz faithful. These averages are from five total games in SLC and Vegas Summer Leagues: 20.4 points, 2.6 assists, 4.4 steals and 2.2 3-pointers. I watched this player live and immediately thought he was drafted way too low considering the names ahead of him. Donovan Mitchell ended up becoming the runner-up Rookie of the Year and many believed he really should have won the award over Ben Simmons in 2018. Mitchell ended up posting averages of 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.4 triples in an awesome underrated season as the No. 13 pick in the 2017 Draft. The now three-time All-Star was essentially a top-50 9-cat fantasy asset in his first season of play. Personally, my friends and I were going to jump onto his skillset in our fantasy drafts while our other peers had no idea who he was coming out of Louisville. This is one example of how Summer League was not a way-too-soon evaluation on a Vegas stud.
In this series of Summer League articles, I’ll be highlighting the highs and lows of each day’s games played. From The California Classic, The Salt Lake City Summer League and lastly Las Vegas — there is plenty to watch out for. Any fantasy manager in a standard 9-cat format or extremely deep dynasty league can learn quite a bit from the summer hoops circuit ahead of refining their draft boards this fall.
Tuesday, July 5th
Buzzin’Chet HolmgrenC, Oklahoma City Thunder
This first game had many envisioning their top-50 redraft league pick going to the young Holmgren since he dropped 23 points (7-of-9 FG, 4-of-6 3PT) with seven boards, four assists, six blocks and one steal in 24 minutes against the Jazz. Holmgren also went 5-of-5 from the line, showing a masterclass of 9-cat potential in just his first appearance in a Thunder uniform. In dynasty formats, there is no doubting the potential that Holmgren has in typical 9-cat formats. In a broader look beyond this game, the only real weakness that Chet showed was in the second game as he was pushed around by the heavy Kenny Lofton Jr. of the Grizzlies. However, this first game was enough bait to make even the most seasoned fantasy player or analyst say “man, this guy has game” and there is no way that I could blame you. If the No. 2 pick of the 2022 Draft can continue lighting it up in Las Vegas, his stock will only continue skyrocketing prior to his first regular season game. Get your tickets soon, the hype train continues to load up with passengers.
BuzzkillDavid RoddyF, Memphis Grizzlies
Admittedly, there were some really good showings from the players across the board on Tuesday. However, Roddy is the player who underwhelmed with a team-low -7 in the box +/- as he shot 1-of-6 from the field. Roddy came off the bench as fellow rookie Jake LaRavia got the nod in the starting lineup at the small forward position. In reality, Roddy will likely be a combo forward with his large frame, but his crafty scoring in college might need some refinement at the NBA level. It is definitely still too early to tell, but Las Vegas will provide more insight on whether he can be a sleeper scorer off the bench this season. With how well LaRavia looked, and how Santi Aldama may have more of a pathway to minutes as an injury replacement, perhaps Roddy will be more of a project that will need to work on being as efficient as he was at Colorado State.
Wednesday, July 6th
Buzzin’Josh GiddeyPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Given that this was the player I definitely reached on as a rookie in my most competitive redraft 9-cat league, I was so glad to see Giddey drop a triple-double in this contest. As a whole body of work in SLC, Giddey looks much improved as a controlled facilitator and seems to be taking a new direction to shoot the ball more off the dribble. This development will be huge for the Thunder, as efficiency is the crux of Giddey’s game on the perimeter. If he can hone his outside shooting (both off of the catch and after his own creation), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will have a seriously scary secondary ball-handler as a backcourt running mate. The size that Giddey provides is uncommon, and his passes are absolutely electric when his teammates finish off his dazzling dimes. You can bet that myself, and many others, are going to take the bait on the young Australian when fantasy draft nights roll around.
BuzzkillAleksej PokuševskiF, Oklahoma City Thunder
The day after this dud of a game, Poku had a better line without a doubt. However, in this one, the lengthy forward could only muster up five points (2-of-6 FG, 1-of-4 3PT), eight boards, one steal and one block in 18 minutes. The Thunder won this game, and the 1-1-1 contributions from Poku are still attractive for deeper-league managers. However, this is Pokuševski’s third season in the league and at some point his status as a raw prospect will turn into more of a realization that he is not a 7’0” unicorn as advertised. Still extremely young, it is way too early to give up if you are the Thunder; on the fantasy front, perhaps this still is not the year to take the plunge on the 20 year old Serbian. Hopefully Poku can get some more playing time and not be benched in favor of even younger players like Ousmane Dieng, but it is more than likely that the plethora of Thunder rookies will be prioritized after a few games in the desert if there is no SL championship run.
Thursday, July 7th
Buzzin’Isaiah JoeSG, Philadelphia Sixers
For those who watched this game, you will remember how electric Joe was in the fourth quarter after he knocked down multiple clutch triples. In fact, he ended up hitting the go-ahead triple that gave the team a one-point victory and ended with a game-high 19 points (6-of-12 FG, 4-of-6 3PT). Joe is entering the final year of a three-year deal, meaning he will need to continue earning his right to remain in the NBA. If the Sixers continue to move on from other rotational pieces at the guard position, there may be some room for Joe to get extra burn off the bench. He can shoot and has shown a willingness to compete hard in the passing lanes on defense. Managers in very deep fantasy leagues should keep their eye on Joe moving forward, especially heading into the Las Vegas portion of Summer League.
BuzzkillTre MannPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Considering the team was without Holmgren and it was the sophomore Summer League debut for Mann, many expected a breakout performance. In the end, he put up 13 points (5-of-14 FG) with six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes. The fourth quarter was not kind to Mann, as he pretty much scored all of his points early in the game and could not close out the Jazz on some seemingly forced isolation looks (he essentially missed every field goal attempt he took in clutch time). Of course, we should cut him some slack as he was just in the health and safety protocols. Mann is still one of my favorites to light it up in Vegas as a potential scoring stud, especially if Giddey begins to get benched in favor of getting other players some run. In terms of fantasy value heading into next season, it is easy to imagine that the streaky guard will be a nice streaming option for teams needing a Gilgeous-Alexander handcuff in an efficiency-punt build. Mann has no fear creating his own shot, and he will bounce back from from this disappointing performance as he gets further removed from his stint in the protocols.