After a century-long wait from the previous double overtime thriller that featured the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings, Saturday night featured two of the top three mutants, in second overall pick Chet Holmgreen and third overall pick Jabari Smith Jr., as they matched up against each other as members of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets.
For those of you who want a small recap of what happened, it was a typical NBA Summer League that featured a bunch of NBA hopefuls playing ugly basketball on both ends of the court.
Chet and Jabari didn’t have a coming out party game per-se, as they struggled offensively. Chet shot 30 percent on 3-10 FG shooting while Jabari heated up Vegas shooting 26 percent from the field on 5-19 FG.
However, they definitely showed their defensive prowess that catapulted both of these unicorn-like players to the top of the lottery. There was no better way to describe this, with Smith’s game winning contest on Thunder guard Josh Giddey.
Giddey drove to the paint with the desperation of a running back on a do or die fourth-and-goal attempt only to miss in a one-possession game, with the Rockets winning 90-88.
Even though I did say this game had some sloppy moments, there are three things I took away from this game.
Tari Eason at pick 17 is a steal
Shoutout to the 17 teams that passed on Tari Eason, because man that guy is such a value in the middle of the draft. Against OKC, he was everywhere, as he posted a stat line of 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block on 50 percent shooting. In the opening moments of the game, his high motor was in full display in the matter of minutes
He finished an alley-oop:
He then gave effort on defense to make a great contest at the rim while getting back on offense on the very next possession to score a spot-up three in transition:
Scouts have made comments about his questionable decision making and inconsistent shooting from distance in his two years in college basketball. However, I don’t get it. The intangibles are there, along with his dominant presence to impact games. For Eason to fall to Houston at 17 to be paired with Jabari Smith seems unfair. But, hey, I know the fans don’t mind!
Jabari Smith Jr.’s passing ability was undersold
Watching Jabari Smith Jr. in college was like watching an accountant go to work. He was a no-nonsense offensive player whose move set was limited to a couple one dribble pull-ups, quick size-up moves, turnaround fades, and spot-up shooting.
Everything he did was deliberate and efficient, which I love. Yet if you speak to the uncultured, they’ll describe it as boring. It’s no wonder why many believe that his role in the NBA was to be a three-and-D wing, since he showed no flash.
However, against the Thunder, the Rockets made sure to give him the ball early, and what we saw was him make some good reads.
Like this pass that turned into a turnover. The read was good, even if Holmgren ultimately made a nice play on the ball.
Or this kickout pass that eventually ended in a miss but was again a good read.
Neither of them turned in to assists, nonetheless this shows he has the capability to play make if given the chance. His court vision is good, and makes the reads quick enough. It’s the accuracy that needs to be fine tuned in order to polish his passing.
He hasn’t been shooting well during his two games, as so far he’s averaged 11 points on 31 percent shooting from the field and 23 percent from downtown.
Nevertheless, I’m not worried. Smith is an elite shooter who shot 42 percent from three and shot 40 percent on contested jump shots at Auburn. Unless he pulls a Corey Brewer and claims “he lost his talent”, no one should bat an eyelash at this slump.
Hang the new 35 in the Summer League rafters and sign him on a two-way contract
Ok guys, I’m halfway serious. I just want to let it be known that Aric Holman’s been great in the Summer League so far. He averaged 7 points while shooting 43 percent from distance, while providing great rim protection with 2 blocks a game in 11 minutes of average play.
Against OKC he registered an absurd offensive rating of 117 and a defensive rating of 80, and you add the fact that he gave Chet Holmgreen a ‘Kodak moment’ that erupted the Thomas and Mack Center:
One would have to think “Welp, what the heck. Why not give him a shot?”
Besides that, I’ve enjoyed what I have seen so far. I can’t wait to see more of these young guys try to prove themselves. Comment below and tell me what are the three things that piqued your interest in this matchup. Until next game, stay blessed Rockets fans!