As the NBA 2K23 Summer League enters the full day phase of play, here are Friday’s Summer League Standouts from Las Vegas:
Moses Moody, Warriors
After coming off a championship, the Warriors are about to conduct a shift. Next season a portion of their rotation will belong to their younger core, and among the oncoming talent is Moody, a second-year guard who had quite the debut in Vegas.
Moody produced 34 points against the Knicks and looked solid at both ends. This coming after a season of relatively limited action: like Jonathan Kuminga, once the 2022 playoffs began, he was a victim of a numbers crunch as the Warriors leaned more toward Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II during their championship run.
Both veterans parted through free agency, leaving a minute void that Golden State will attempt to fill next season with Kuminga, Moody and 2020 No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman. Unless, of course, the Warriors package a few of them in a trade, just in case a team — say, the Nets, for example — are willing to participate in a blockbuster before next season.
Cam Thomas, Nets
There is unrest within the organization this summer (maybe you’ve heard?) but at least the Nets received a bit of assurance from one of their returning rotational players. Not that they were concerned about Thomas, who earned co-MVP honors during last year’s Vegas run.
Once again, Thomas seemed beyond the competition talent-wise, putting up 31 points against the Bucks. Though he’s struggled from deep (1-6 3PM), Thomas scored 17 in the fourth quarter. He’ll need to work on his range this summer; last season with the Nets the guard shot 27.0%.
As they deal with Kevin Durant’s trade demand and the uncertainty of Kyrie Irving, the Nets needed some good news — even if it didn’t involve one of their superstars — and Thomas delivered.
Marko Simonović, Bulls
Hard to top what the young center did against the Mavericks: Simonovic scored 27 points with 13 rebounds and three blocks, tied the game at the end of regulation with a dunk and then hit the game-winning free throw in OT.
He played only nine games for Chicago last season (14 if you include five for their G-League affiliate), but has worked on improving his body and low-post game. The issue for Simonovic, then, is whether today’s game has room for his prototype of him; he doesn’t exactly stretch the floor at barely two 3s a game. It’s up to him to show he belongs and should command minutes next season. That begins in Las Vegas.
Benedict Mathurin, Pacers
After a slow start, the No. 6 pick looked comfortable in his skin — and an NBA summer league uniform, offering a glimpse of what he might be capable of doing on the next level.
Mathurin scored 23 points in 20 minutes in a display that was nearly mistake-free (one turnover), showing the maturity that will serve him well as a rookie. At 6-foot-6, the Pacers aren’t sure where he’ll fit best, either guard or small forward, but that’s a decision that can wait. Here in the summer, he’ll flip between spots and drop hints.
Draft night didn’t go as planned for Hardy, a G League Ignite guard who thought he’d go in the first round, only to be disappointed at falling to 37. He wasn’t the only one; some scouts also had him among the top 30 picks. The Mavericks thought enough of him to swing a trade with the Kings, and here he is.
Hardy channeled that angst to positive results in his hometown — hailing from nearby Henderson — and finished with 28 points against the Bulls. He showed good aggression and clearly wanted to make an impression.
Almost everyone on the Minnesota summer league team is working from an advantage if only because the Wolves surrendered multiple rotational players in their trade for Rudy Gobert. Therefore, someone will probably work his way to the roster in some form, and in that sense, Minott got a jump on the competition with a solid game against the Nuggets.
He scored 22 points with 10 rebounds, a nice night on the glass for an athletic small forward, and looked fluid. Minott was acquired from the Hornets on a draft-day trade; selected with the 45th pick after playing college ball at Memphis, he’s hoping to make a lasting impression. Minott showed a nice shooting touch and lots of energy Friday, and it’s a bit of surprise he had energy left after working out for 21 teams before the draft.
Scotty Pippen Jr., Lakers
The undrafted son of an all-time great managed to separate himself from the summer league pack in his Vegas debut, with 19 points against the Suns. Following the draft, Pippen signed a two-way contract with the Lakers, who are anxious to see if he fits in their plans for the upcoming season.
Pippen, at 6-foot-3, isn’t as tall as his father, nor gifted with the same supreme athletic genes, though he’s clever and sees the floor. Speaking of that, when he toppled to the floor Friday and into the first row, none other than LeBron James was there to help him to his feet. In a best-case scenario this upcoming season, Pippen will repay the favor.
Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can email him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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