LAS VEGAS — Here’s a quick rundown of Tuesday’s top performances at the NBA 2K23 Summer League, which took place at Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion:
Tyrese Martin, Atlanta Hawks
After dribbling between his legs, Martin drove to his left, picked up his dribble and pulled up for jumper. After the shot sank into the net, Martin held out his right hand by his right knee to suggest his defender was “too small.”
Not the case. Martin just mastered his timing well enough to throw Miami Heat guard Marcus Garrett off balance. In the Hawks’ 95–88 win over Miami, Martin showed the kind of sharp decision making that partly explains why Atlanta drafted him at No. 51.
Martin finished with 21 points while shooting 9-for-14 from the field and 2-for-5 from 3 along with six rebounds. It’s not exactly clear what role Martin will have next season. But the Hawks have one roster spot open. That spot might ultimately go to Martin.
Carlik Jones, Chicago Bulls
With the ball in his hands, Jones dribbled left, crossed up his opponent and drove right to the basket for the easy layup.
In the Bulls’ 93-83 win over the Toronto Raptors, Jones showcased his strong decision making toward the end of the first half. He finished with 17 points while making all of his shots from the field (7-for-7) and from 3-point range (2-for-2) along with five assists and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
After going undrafted in 2021, the 24-year-old Jones cemented 10-day contracts with the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets. Perhaps Jones takes that next step for more extended invitations this season, including in Chicago.
Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
The Pacers’ prized draft pick pumped his chest after draining a 3. He scowled after throwing down a dunk.
No doubt, Mathurin plays with a lot of emotion and skill. Those qualities in the Pacers’ 101-87 win over the Detroit Pistons are more significant than his impressive stat line (20 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals). Though that performance came against inferior competition than what Mathurin will encounter in his rookie season, the Pacers’ No. 6 pick will presumably play with that same kind of edge in more meaningful games.
Mathurin did not just show his emotions after big plays. He showed them after getting dunked on, which prompted him to compete even harder. That moment suggests Mathurin might navigate adversity well.
Santi Aldama, Memphis Grizzlies
Sometimes, Aldama put on a clinic with key outside shots and putbacks. Other times, Aldama dominated with timely blocks and hustle plays. Aldama simply excelled in nearly every part of the game in the Grizzlies’ 120-84 win over the Brooklyn Nets. He had 31 points while shooting efficiently from the field (12-for-14) and from deep (4-for-5) along with nine rebounds and three blocks. Aldama’s huge performance helped Memphis tie a Summer League record for points in a game with 120.
Ever since the Grizzlies acquired Aldama’s draft rights after the Utah Jazz selected him at No. 30 in 2021, Memphis didn’t exactly have clarity on what he could become. After playing internationally (Spanish national team) and collegiately (Loyola), Aldama spent last season bouncing between the Grizzlies and their G League team.
Santi Aldama masterclass in Vegas tonight for the @memgrizz 😤
– 31 PTS
– 9 REBS
– 3 BLKS
– 12/14 FG pic.twitter.com/eKtRQc1CD7
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 13, 2022
Aldama had just four points in the Grizzlies’ Summer-League opening loss to the Clippers. Since then, Aldama has looked more polished on both ends of the floor.
Justin Jackson, Boston Celtics
Things hardly have panned out the way Jackson has wanted since the Sacramento Kings drafted him at No. 15 in 2017. He has lacked stable footing in his short stops in Sacramento (2017-19), Dallas, (’19-20), Oklahoma City (’20-21), Milwaukee (’21), Boston (’21) and Phoenix (’22). But after spending last season in the G League with the Texas Legends, the 27-year-old Jackson has appeared determined to make most of the grind.
In the Celtics’ 103-92 win over the Golden State Warriors, Jackson finished with 24 points while shooting well overall (9-for-14) and from beyond the arc (5-for-10). That happened a day after having a quiet Summer League debut in Boston’s 111-109 win over Milwaukee. Then, Jackson had 10 points albeit on a 2-for-8 clip.
Mason Jones, Los Angeles Lakers
Will Jones become the next success story in the Lakers’ G League pipeline? It appears that way.
In the Lakers’ 83-72 win over the L.A. Clippers, Jones finished with a team-leading 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes off the bench. The Lakers signed Jones on a two-way contract last season, which entailed splitting duties with them and their G League team. The Lakers have since reserved their two-way contracts to Scottie Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider. But the Lakers still have two roster spots open.
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