Basketball fans watch the NBA’s annual Summer League for two reasons: to catch a first glimpse of the new and promising rookie class (as well as promising young players coming off of their rookie year) and to overreact to every little thing they do. In actuality, it’s difficult to correlate any kind of success or failure in the NBA Summer League to how a player will perform come regular season.
Still, it’s fun to extrapolate opinions on semi-meaningless basketball, especially in the dry part of the NBA offseason. Thus, here are my overreactions to the 2022 NBA Summer League. Keep in mind, these overreactions are overreactions. The entire reason for the Summer League’s existence is to formulate insane opinions based on a handful of games against lesser talent in a less competitive environment.
Cam Thomas is a generational scoring talent
OK, maybe generational is too hyperbolic. But, Cam Thomas is a walking bucket. The second-year Nets guard defended his 2021 Summer League scoring title by averaging 27.4 points. A true three-level scorer with a dribbling package that is as tight as it comes, I was impressed with how easily Thomas got to his spots. But what was more impressive was the growth in his playmaking, averaging 4.2 assists per game. Coming out of LSU, the knock on Thomas was his penchant to devolve into hero ball, but this summer he displayed both a willingness to pass and ran the pick and roll to great effect. Thomas had little opportunity to shine in his rookie season on the dysfunctional Nets, but maybe he can find minutes as a spark plug off the bench.
The 2022 draft class is going to be dangerous
This one feels less like an overreaction and more of an educated prediction because of how well most of the rookies played this summer. The three lottery unicorns in Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr., all shined in their own unique ways. Banchero looked physically dominant, showcasing the offensive tools that made Magic take him No. 1 overall. Holmgren stood his ground and was able to display the perimeter offensive game that he couldn’t in Gonzaga’s system. And while Smith Jr. wasn’t as potent offensively as the other two, he was very impressive defensively both as an anchor and on ball defender. However, they weren’t the only impressive rookies.
Keegan Murray’s going to make Sacramento dangerous
Is that sentence too crazy? Maybe, maybe not, but regardless –– Keegan Murray looked awesome in Summer League. Kings fans rejoice! Murray averaged 23.3 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game on 50% shooting, earning the Summer League MVP honor. His scoring was smooth and fluid, his efficient college basketball game looks to have translated so far. Murray cited Khris Middleton as the player he models his game after and the resemblance is uncanny. His fit on the Kings will be fun to watch. While De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are two ball-dominant guys, Murray displayed a polished off-ball game that will lead to success come regular season. I’m not sure how dangerous the Kings will be in a deep Western Conference, but if Murray can fuel a run for one of the play-in seeds, that would be a win for Sacramento.
The Warriors have an in-house superteam
Let’s ignore Jonathan Kuminga’s opening game where he scored 4 points on 20% shooting and focus on all of those transition dunks of his. There were times when Kuminga looked like the most athletic guy in the NBA, yet there were also stretches where he looked like a 20-year old still learning the intangibles of the game. James Wiseman returned to play for the first time in almost a year and looked serviceable. His defense was more disciplined and his screens were more Kevon Looney-esque than what we saw in his rookie year. However, the guy who looked the best was Moses Moody. With his three-point shooting, he looked the most ready to step up on a Warriors team who lost key role players this offseason. If two of these three can make a big leap and crack Steve Kerr’s rotation, Golden State’s going to have a good chance of defending its title.