Yes, Summer League doesn’t mean anything, but I’m feeling pretty vindicated with how things are shaking out so far for this year’s crop of rookies. As a Chet believer who wanted to see him on the Detroit Pistons with Cade Cunningham, it was great to see the slim big man shine. Same with Paolo. And I was particularly skeptical of Jabari Smith’s ability to do anything other than catch and shoot, and so far that is playing out and his shots aren’t falling. His defense is legit though.
I was also particularly high on Bennedict Mathurin, and, truth be told, I had him above Ivey on my fictional “big board.” I figured he has a higher floor and a ceiling that is higher ceiling than many realize. So far in Summer League, he is rewarding that faith. Through two games, he’s averaging 19.5 points and hitting his 3 balls, and showing the sneaky athleticism that could make him a plus player on both ends.
Ivey has had his own strong showing in Summer League, particularly his second game when he scored 11 points in the first 5 minutes and showed excellent athleticism and secondary playmaking ability. Unfortunately, a rolled ankle on a 3-point attempt sidelined him for the rest of that game 2 and make him unlikely to suit up again this Summer League.
What was supposed to be the Ivey vs. Mathurin showdown might feature neither player. But at least we’ll get a whole lot of Saben Lee.
When: 9 p.m. ET
Where: Cox Pavillion, Las Vegas, Nevada
Watch: NBA TV
Ivey is almost definitely sidelined, and it wouldn’t surprise if Isaiah Stewart is shut down after two games of plus play and a good-looking 3-ball. But that doesn’t mean there are zero players of consequence. Isaiah Livers is showing out strong, and he could be fighting his way into a legitimate conversation about entering the starting lineup and pushing Saddiq Bey to the starting power forward spot or being the starting 4 man himself.
Jalen Duren could get even more run, and rack up a few more highlight dunks. But there are a few things that people aren’t talking about enough regarding the 18-year-old center. First, he is showcasing some quality passing ability and that could mean he’d be effective as a short-roll passer when the lane is cut off (he can’t dunk literally everything after all). Decent vision and decision-making is a great thing to have in a young center, and it should be nurtured. The downside is, Duren doesn’t seem to have much of a nose for the ball, and his rebounding technique leaves a lot to be desired. He grabbed just one rebound in limited minutes in game one and six in over 26 minutes in game two.
Duren is getting a lot of people excited, but you need your big man to control the boards in the NBA, and if he can’t get to them then he’s going to find himself farther down on the depth chart than he wants.