The NBA Summer League is back again in Las Vegas, Nevada, providing the platform to showcase talents as teams seek out young players with potential for greatness in the coming season.
It lived up to its billing on Thursday night with a matchup between Orlando’s Paolo Banchero and Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr., the No. 1 and No. 3 picks, respectively, in last month’s NBA draft.
No-1 Draft Proves Mettle
The Magic won 91-77 in the first meeting between two of the NBA’s most anticipated rookies, with Banchero notching 17 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists in 25 minutes. Smith had a quieter night in his Rockets debut, finishing with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Banchero, who looked every bit the 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds he is listed at, used his size and physicality to get wherever he wanted on the court. He played the way he likely will for Orlando next season – by serving as a de facto point guard in a power forward’s body.
Paolo Banchero vs Jabari Smith Jr. after Summer League Game 1:— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) July 8, 2022
Paolo: 17 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 50% FGM, 2/3 3PM
Jabari: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
Magic W. 🪄 pic.twitter.com/pRVnkxz0yT
On the other hand, Smith’s high, quick release of the ball, combined with his 6-10 frame, has the potential to make him a serious spot-up shooting threat. In time, he could easily put on weight to expand his game like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard and other young, projectable wings before him.
Holmgren Against Smith
Given the headline featuring the No. 2 and No. 3 selections of the 2022 NBA Draft, Holmgren’s night mirrored Smith.
The first head-to-head meeting between Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith underwhelmed for both rookies, but Smith did get the final laugh thanks to the Houston Rockets’ 90-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Summer League Day 3 play.
Holmgren did show off the versatility of his skill set on a night when his shot was not falling. He finished with 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field. The 20-year-old made up for those issues by adding seven rebounds, three steals and four blocks.
Ivey Out Injured
Ivey played just five minutes in Day 3 of Summer League, putting up 11 points and two assists in Detroit Pistons 105 – 99 win against Washington Wizards, before exiting with an ankle injury. He made both of his shots from the field, his only three-point attempt and all six of his free-throws.
The 20-year-old suffered the ankle injury after landing on the foot of Wizards forward Isaiah Todd with 4:52 to play in the first quarter. He was visibly in pain and grabbed his right leg before making three free-throws and exiting.
While Ivey’s status moving forward is unclear, there’s speculation that he might be done with Summer League altogether, which would be a huge blow for the Pistons.
Before leaving the game with an apparent ankle injury, Jaden Ivey did this in just 5 minutes of play. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/IruFVI4m3k— theScore (@theScore) July 10, 2022
Bits and Pieces
Top picks typically do not play the entire summer league slate. There is no telling how much of Smith and Banchero we shall get to see in Vegas, but the real test will come in October when they are finally able to begin their NBA careers in earnest.