Chet Holmgren’s huge Summer League game caused quite a stir tonight. A significant first that made us want to dive back into the performances of the top prospects of recent years for their debut as professional players. Boxes, some disappointments but also surprises, there is something for everyone.
# They carded:
We start with a case that takes us back 12 years with THE announced crack of the Draft 2010 vintage. We are obviously talking about John Wall, selected in first place by the Wizards. In the wake of his official arrival in the NBA, Jean Mur will simply do some work from his first minutes on the court: a first game where the leader will blacken the stats sheet with 24 points, eight D assists, two rebounds and two interceptions to give victory to his team. Even if everything was not perfect (8 stray balls), Wall had shown from this first outing the impact he could have on a match. An impression confirmed on the upper floor until his serious injury in 2019. In the category of guys who did not wait forever to send a message to the whole League, we also find Damian Lillard. 6th choice of the 2012 Draft, Dame behaved like a boss from his first match. With 25 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, the leader took responsibility with an unbelievable percentage (9/22) but an impressive selflessness. A performance marked by a second half in which he will carry his team by scoring 17 points to seek victory (85-82) against the New Orleans Hornets. Note that Anthony Davis was not present because he was with Team USA for the preparation of the 2012 Olympics, no time to lose. More recently, we can also say that Jayson Tatum is one of the rookies who made a strong impression for their first pro match. Drafted in 3rd position by the Celtics in 2017, the winger delivered a demonstration of versatility and offensive efficiency, in an airy and easy style that characterizes him. And in addition to a very sexy line of stats (21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals), JT will even allow himself to be clutch by planting 11 puntos in the 4th quarter, with the winning shot in prime.
— Celtics News (@CelticsNewsNBA) July 20, 2017
# They struggled:
Even if we regularly attend masterclasses from top prospects as soon as they arrive in the League, some needed a little more time to find their rhythm. Perhaps the best recent example is in Georgia. Among the headliners of the Draft 2018, Trae Young had a rather chaotic start. Very angry with his shot, the leader will deliver a correct first performance in the figures (16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 stray bullets), but with terrible percentages (4 out of 20 on shots, including 1 out of 11 to 3 -points). Galleys which continued in the rest of the tournament before Ice Trae found his shot in the regular season to finally sign a good rookie season. In the category of future All-Stars who watered for their first game, D’Angelo Russell isn’t bad either. No. 2 in the 2015 Draft, the former Laker started his career with an average copy, with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 ball losses. And his difficulties will be confirmed in the rest of the tournament, with catastrophic percentages. It will finally be necessary for the leader to leave Los Angeles to take off and show what he is capable of. Finally, we can’t talk about the hassles of cracks coming out of Draft without mentioning RJ Barrett. Despite all the potential that motivated the Knicks to select him in 3rd place in the 2019 Draft, the Canadian took time to meet expectations. At the same time, we saw more comfortable than starting his first Summer League with a match against the Pelicans of the phenomenon Zion Williamson, his former teammate at Duke. A match that will see Barrett score 10 points with a clumsiness (4/18 in the shoot, 1/8 in the parking lot) that will characterize his first months in the League. Since then, things have been much better for the swingman, who is experiencing steady progress in New York and who should sign a nice contract this summer.
# Special mentions:
In this last part, we wanted to place the names of some guys who will have caught our attention for their performances in the Summer League before seeing their careers take a very different turn. The case of Kyle Kuzma is the perfect symbol. Only 27th choice of the 2017 Draft, Le Kuz will roll in the League throughout the month of July. His averages will make him the attraction of the summer, with 21 points and 6.4 rebounds in addition to Finals MVP status after a final demonstration (30 points, 10 rebounds). Unfortunately for the winger, we have seen that being the GOAT of July is not enough to become a star in the NBA. Jabari Parker was also a summer league star in 2014, when he averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds. The serial injuries that the player has suffered for several years will spoil this great potential. At 27, Jabari has been fighting for several seasons to keep his place in the NBA, far from the flashes he showed in his debut. Finally, Ben Simmons also made a strong impression on his arrival in the League. The point guard’s record is quite special since at the time of his first appearance in 2016, the Australian’s strengths and weaknesses were already obvious: impressive versatility (10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) combined with good reading game and serious defensive abilities, but also a big clumsiness (2/9 to shoot) and an already suspicious physique, since the player suffered from cramps in his first game. If the Australian then confirmed in the NBA, recovering three invitations to the All-Star Game, his persistent shortcomings at long distance and his health concerns (absent from the field for a year) raise fears of some difficulties for the rest of his career.
I want to say calm down on the Summer League because at the end of their summer Kyle Kuzma and Denzel Valentine were to roll on the NBA, but no.
Treat yourself, say anything, announce madness. That’s also the beauty of this competition. Disastrous reviews.
— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) July 6, 2022
The start of the Summer Leagues is also an opportunity to observe what the most awaited rookies in the country are doing. Even if they are interesting to study, these first performances do not always give good indications on the continuation of the career of these young players. So while waiting to find out who will confirm his big performances, recover from failed debuts or create a surprise in the NBA, we can always admire the services offered, like that of Chet Holmgren tonight.