Summer League Standouts: Paolo Banchero solid in Orlando's win

Paolo Banchero delivers in his Summer League debut with Orlando as play wraps up in Salt Lake City and begins in Las Vegas.

No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith of the Rockets matches up with No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero (Magic) in their Summer League debuts.

SALT LAKE CITY — Here’s a quick rundown of the top performances from the final day of the Salt Lake City Summer League and the opening games for the NBA 2K23 Summer League from Las Vegas.


Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

The NBA 2K23 Summer League debut for 2022’s No. 1 overall pick was productive and went somewhat as expected in Las Vegas. And it was even more impressive considering he was matched most of the night against Jabari Smith Jr., the No. 3 pick by the Houston Rockets who was projected before the draft as the possible first pick.

Banchero showed a variety of offensive skills including the ability to shoot from both mid-range and deep, a solid dribble for a 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward and keen court vision. It amounted to 17 points and six assists as the Magic won 91-77.

The rookie big was aggressive from the tip, scoring eight points in the first quarter and 13 by halftime. By contrast, Smith was rather tentative and finished with 10 points, adding seven rebounds.

Paolo Banchero came up with a big performance in his Summer League debut.

Banchero’s next game is Saturday (4 ET, ESPN) when he faces the Sacramento Kings and No. 4 pick Keegan Murray, who’s coming off an impressive Summer League stint in the California Classic Summer League.

As for Smith, he had a somewhat quiet night — even adding three assists — and had some nice drives to the basket while playing solid team defense, matching up occasionally with Banchero. Of course, with all things Summer League, it’s worth noting how quickly fortunes and performances can change (Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick, can attest). But there’s no doubt Banchero got off to a positive start in his first Summer League.

— Shaun Powell


Josh Christopher, Houston Rockets

If the 2021 first-round pick wants to push for more playing time next season, he dropped that clue Thursday with a solid effort on both ends against the Magic.

Christopher finished with 22 points, and his biggest highlight was a soaring block at the rim that was initially ruled a foul but later overturned. It was an astonishing display of athletic ability by a 6-foot-3 guard.

Christopher had trouble getting minutes as a rookie, which was understandable given No. 2 overall Jalen Green was also taken in that draft and plays the same position. As the season progressed and the Rockets — who won only 20 games in 2021-22 — were clearly making assessments throughout the roster, Christopher’s time increased. So, too, did his performances, which included a 30-point game against Minnesota in April.

— Shaun Powell


Caleb Houstan, Magic

Two years ago the Canadian native was on a Florida high school team with Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes — the top vote-getters for 2021-22 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year. While those ex-teammates sparkled in the NBA last season, Houstan played college ball at Michigan, with inconsistent results, ultimately taken in the second round of this year’s draft by Orlando.

Well, he left a fine first impression in Vegas. The 6-foot-8 forward was the best shooter on the floor in Thursday’s Magic-Rockets game, making five of his nine 3-pointers and finishing with 20 points. Along with Banchero and RJ Hampton, Houstan was one of the most impressive players for Orlando in their Summer League opener.

— Shaun Powell


Jaden Ivey & Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons

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Detroit put a pair of 2022 first-round picks on the floor — No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey and No. 13 overall Jalen Duren — and offered a peek of the future.

Duren had the quicker start against Portland, catching three lob passes for easy dunks in the first quarter. Duren is primarily a low-post center and will likely be used this upcoming season constantly on the screen and roll, expected to form a fast connection with Cade Cunningham, last year’s No. 1 overall pick. Duren added a pair of blocks to go with his nine points against the Blazers.

Meanwhile, Ivey progressed along with the game, finding his rhythm and the hoop, and finished strong. The swingman from Purdue looked at ease, showed plenty of bounce and saw the floor well. His trademark is creation off the dribble, and he finished with 20 points, leading the Pistons, along with six rebounds and six assists.

— Shaun Powell


Isaiah Joe & Jaden Springer, Philadelphia 76ers

Isaiah Joe finished with 19 points in Philadelphia's win Thursday vs. Oklahoma City.

Joe, a third-year guard who has seen his role increase in each of the last two regular seasons, finished strong in Salt Lake City. He racked up 19 points (including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 25.2 seconds left), four rebounds, two assists and was active defensively (four steals) as the Philadelphia 76ers won 80-79 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In all, this was a solid Summer League start for Joe, who had 19 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in Tuesday’s 103-99 loss to Memphis (he did not play on Wednesday).

Springer, Philadelphia’s first-round pick from 2021, spent most of last season with the Sixers’ NBA G League affiliate in Delaware. The 6-foot-3 guard finished with 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal, remaining an aggressor with and without the ball. However, he struggled with his shot once again (3-13 FGs) and shot 28% at the SLC Summer League. The Sixers are expecting him to step into a bigger role in 2022-23 and his overall play in Utah showed he might be ready for that.

— Jeff Case, for NBA.com


Xavier Tillman, Memphis Grizzlies

Tillman went 2-for-2 in terms of strong games in Salt Lake City with a 10-point, 14-rebound, 4-assist showing in a 95-84 win against the Jazz. After getting a rest day on Wednesday, Tillman once again put in work on an opposing frontline and found cutters with relative ease against Utah. Memphis has designs on building off last season’s run to the Western Conference semifinals and Tillman’s growth and development in Summer League will be key in helping that cause.

— Jeff Case, for NBA.com


Bruno Caboclo, Utah Jazz

Caboclo couldn’t join the Jazz until Tuesday because of his commitments to the Brazilian National Team. He kept up the solid play in Salt Lake, with 17 points, 7 rebounds and three blocks in Thursday’s loss to Memphis. Overall, he has been strong in the paint, finishing with a variety of power dunks across two games. A former first-round pick and a seven-year NBA veteran, Caboclo spent 2021-22 in the G League. Utah will be monitoring his play in the NBA 2K23 Summer League as the Jazz seek frontcourt depth options for next season.

— Jeff Case, for NBA.com

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