LAS VEGAS – Here’s a quick rundown of Thursday’s top performances in the NBA2K23 Summer League at Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion:
Tyson Etienne, Atlanta Hawks
It didn’t matter that Etienne met multiple defenders in the paint. It also didn’t matter that he fell to the court after attempting the layup.
Etienne still made the go-ahead shot with 14 seconds remaining in the Hawks’ 87-86 win over the San Antonio Spurs. He then forced a turnover on the ensuing possession to deny the Spurs a chance to retake the lead.
Not a bad finish for Etienne, who finished with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting and two steals. Not a bad audition, either. After going undrafted out of Wichita State, Etienne signed an Exhibit 10 contract with Atlanta that essentially ensures his spot on the team’s Summer League and training camp roster. If the Hawks waive him, Etienne could earn up to $50,000 if he stays with their G League team for 60 days.
As shown with his late-game layup and deflection, Etienne hopes to bank on becoming a steal.
JD Davison, Boston Celtics
Just as Summer League play began, the Celtics announced that they signed Davison to a two-way contract. But can the Celtics’ No. 53 pick secure a full-time roster spot?
Davison says the Celtics have told him so, and he further stated his case on Thursday. In Boston’s 108-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, Davison posted a team-leading 28 points while shooting efficiently from the field (9-for-14), from 3-point range (4-for-6) and from the foul line (6-for-6). He added 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals.
The Celtics have become impressed with Davison’s competitiveness, explosiveness and physicality. He showed all those traits against Memphis. On one play, Davison drove coast to coast before escaping a few defenders and converting a finger roll. On another, he split a pair of defenders, drew a third and set up Juhann Begarin for an easy bucket. Davison later made a quick crossover to shake off his defender before driving to the basket.
Miles McBride, New York Knicks
Who knows what his role will become considering Jalen Brunson’s arrival. But with Alec Burks and Kemba Walker off the roster, McBride still could earn some significant minutes in his second season.
It’s a stretch to take anything significant from the Knicks’ 102-89 win over the Orlando Magic, where McBride showed a mix of good (23 points on 9-for-13 shooting, five assists) and bad (six turnovers). McBride told reporters he doesn’t care about his Summer League numbers. But after appearing in only 40 games as New York’s third-string point guard last season, the Knicks’ No. 36 pick a year ago appears intent on climbing up the depth chart.
McBride has refined his outside shot. And up until Monday’s game, he’d kept his turnovers low. But more importantly, McBride played with a competitive edge the Knicks will need this season to take some of the burden off their prized new point guard.
Dalen Terry, Chicago Bulls
Terry stuffed the box score. The Bulls’ young prospect also stuffed his opponents.
It might seem impressive enough that the Bulls’ 89-73 win over the Charlotte Hornets featured Terry posting 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting, five rebounds, two steals and a block. But the box score alone doesn’t fully capture how Terry lifted Chicago to a win in his fourth Summer League outing.
Consider a few snapshots. Terry driving right to the basket following a timeout. Blocking Hornets guard Bryce McGowens at the rim, sprinting down court and converting a layup off an outlet pass. Forcing a backcourt violation by trapping Hornets guard LJ Figueroa. Through it all, Terry pressured ballhandlers, caused deflections and even disrupted an alley-oop lob.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) July 14, 2022
Needed disclaimer: Summer League play often means little for what’s ahead. In this case, though, Terry showed the Bulls can at least count on him to hustle in any setting.
Lindell Wigginton, Milwaukee Bucks
Whether he participated in a practice, mop-up duty or significant moments, Wigginton has given the Bucks consistent energy.
No surprise then that the Bucks re-signed Wigginton this offseason after he spent last season with them on a two-way contract. No surprise then that Wigginton had 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting, four assists and three steals in the Bucks’ 100-89 win over the Dallas Mavericks
As shown with his four turnovers against Dallas, Wigginton needs to refine his decision-making and play at a more controlled pace. Still, the Bucks have seen how Wigginton’s tenacity can help their defense and overall energy level whenever he plays.
Keon Johnson, Portland Trail Blazers
Johnson’s shooting in the Blazers’ 85-77 win over the Houston Rockets almost certainly won’t have any big-picture implications. Once again, we’re talking about Summer League.
Nonetheless, Johnson offered a blueprint on how he might improve from his rookie season. He finished with 25 points while shooting efficiently from the field (8-for-13), from 3-point range (4-for-8) and from the free-throw line (5-for-6). It wasn’t pretty that Johnson committed six turnovers, but at least his play looked more appealing than what he showed last season.
After selecting Johnson with the 21st pick, the Clippers included him as part of their deadline deal to land Norman Powell. Amid limited playing time with the Clippers, Johnson shot poorly from the field (33.3%) and from deep (27.3%). Even with Portland granting him more minutes (25.5), Johnson did not improve substantially overall (35.7%) or from the perimeter (34.8%).
That will have to change in more meaningful games. But for now, Thursday was a positive.
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