Salt Lake City – Here’s a quick rundown of the best performances from the last day of the 2022 California Summer Classic and the first day of the Summer League in Salt Lake City.
Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
To say Holmgren, second overall in the 2022 draft, did not disappoint in his summer league debut would be an understatement. Holmgren delivered the crowd to the crowd on Tuesday from Salt Lake City, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 98-77 victory over the Utah Jazz with 23 points.
Here’s a small sampling of Holmgren’s play, just in the first quarter: three blocks (including one on 7-foot-6, 250-pound Tacko Fall jazz center), three three-pointers (including a step back in the fall), ten Nifty cents to create a layup from Galen Williams and 1 and steal.
This kind of performance lasted all night as it took damage from the depth (4 vs 6 on 3 indices), shut down the paint and, most notably, wasn’t present by either Fall or another big, bullish Utah center. Kofi Cockburn (7 feet, 290 pounds) as he had seven rebounds and provided four assists to add to his overall tally. Most of all, Holmgren seemed confident and aligned well with other young talents at OKC including Josh Giddey and Alekesej Pokusevski, Jalen Williams and Jalen Williams.
“I thought he was really good in attack. Thunder’s Summer League coach Cameron Woods said, ‘What impressed me most about him was the way he played with our good style.’” Obviously he had a great game, but the most impressive part for me was the He did it in our offensive line. It looked like a basketball team out there and they found success in what we do.”
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
Consistency has become Murray’s calling card — at least based on his last two games at the California Classic. Murray finished with 24 points in a 9-16 shootout while scoring seven rebounds and three steals in the Sacramento 87-75 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The No. 4 pick overall was the clutch in the fourth quarter, pinning a jump with 4:18 remaining to help Sacramento climb 71-70 and reclaim the lead. He also had a big block with 3:05 left before a big steal and dunk with 42.1 seconds left to help take the win. His performance on Tuesday comes after a 26-point night in Sacramento’s win on Sunday against Golden State where he showed consistent scoring touch.
Nikola Jovic, Miami Heat
In Miami’s 90-74 against Golden State, the Heat’s top pick in the 2022 draft showed why they finished 27th overall. Lauded before the draft as a player capable of shooting shots from all three levels, Jovic showed that in shooting 9-16 en route to the finish with 25 points in just over 28 minutes. He also had nine rebounds and was big in the fourth quarter, making a 4 for 5 overall, and was perfect (3 for 3) out of a 3-point range.
Overall, Thursday’s final for the Miami at the California Classic was a good sign for Jovic as the team prepares to play in the NBA 2K23 Summer League in Las Vegas (July 7-17). After battling to do attacking in the first two games of the Summer League in Miami (4-for-14 FG and 1-7 on three-pointers), Jovic certainly made a comeback with his Tuesday showing.
Xavier Williams, Xavier Tillman, Memphis Grizzlies
Two of the six players on the Memphis roster with previous NBA experience, Williams and Tillman, both looked strong in the opening game at Vivent Arena in Salt Lake City. In all, Williams had 15 points, but most notable were his passing and defense in the Grizzlies’ 103-99 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Williams finished with eight assists, stole twice and had a dime in time for Tillman with 1:36 left.
Tillman showed the kind of strong play that made him a key rotation player for Memphis during the playoff round in 2022. He had 16 points, three rebounds and four assists, and was aggressive in going into the basket or looking for breakers when he got the ball on the low post. While he was the victim of a fierce and worthwhile block late in the game by the Sixers’ Jalen Springer, Tillman stood out for his persistence and aggressiveness.