2022 NBA2K23 Summer League

NBA 2K23 Summer League Standouts: Blazers duo delivers championship

Trendon Watford and Brandon Williams lead Portland to a Summer League title while an undrafted 7-footer has a perfect shooting performance.

Blazers big man Trendon Watford was the unanimous selection for MVP after dominating the Knicks in the championship game.

LAS VEGAS — The final six games of NBA 2K23 Summer League concluded Sunday, with Portland seizing the championship by way of an 85-77 victory over the New York Knicks.

Trail Blazers forward Trendon Watford walked away as the unanimous MVP of the title game, and leads our list of standout performances from the final day of action at Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion: 

Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers

Formed a deadly duo with Brandon Williams, drilling 7 of 15 shots, including 3-for-6 from 3-point range for 19 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block. Watford poured in seven of Portland’s 12 points in the opening quarter with three steals and finished the first half as the game’s leading scorer (12 points) as the Blazers took a 41-30 edge into intermission.

Undrafted in 2021 out of LSU, Watford joined Portland on a two-way contract and made his NBA debut last November on the way to earning a four-year, $5.8 million contract. Watford played in 48 NBA games last season for the Blazers, averaging 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Brandon Williams, Portland Trail Blazers

Brandon Williams was 5 of 9 from the field while hitting all 10 of his free throws.

Dished out a game-high five dimes, in addition to finishing as the contest’s top scorer (22 points). Interestingly, Williams produced 10 points in the final frame despite hitting only one bucket. The guard inflicted the late damage from the free throw line, where he drained all eight of his attempts as Portland held off the surging Knicks down the stretch.

Williams and Watford combined for 22 of the Blazers’ 41 first-half points on 7 of 11 from the floor and 4 of 6 from distance. Williams joined Portland via a 10-day contract in 2021, after multiple players missed time due to the league’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols. But the 22-year-old didn’t make his NBA debut until February, when he signed a two-way contract with the Blazers. Williams played 24 games last season for Portland, averaging 12.9 ppg, 3.9 apg and 3.1 rpg.

Miles McBride, New York Knicks

Quentin Grimes leads our Summer League MVP Ladder, but don’t sleep on McBride, who racked up 17 points on 4-for-10 shooting with six rebounds, three assists and a steal as Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau watched courtside. “Deuce” entered the league in 2021 as a second-round pick (36th overall) out of West Virginia and played 40 games for the Knicks last season with two starts.

Against the Blazers on Sunday, McBride shook off a 1-of-5 start to knock down 3 of 5 in the second half for 10 points, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter.

Abu Kigab, Toronto Raptors

Versatile, athletic, and aggressive, Kigab may be an NBA long shot, but he dropped a smooth double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) on 50% shooting off the bench in Toronto’s 80-69 win against the Milwaukee Bucks. A native of St. Catharines, Ontario, Kigab went undrafted in 2022 out of Boise State, but played a major role last season in the Broncos winning the Mountain West regular-season championship.

Kigab fits the mold of the long, athletic wings typically coveted by Toronto. Given his versatility as a defender able to guard multiple positions, Kigab has a chance to stick if he can make strides on the offensive end, especially as a shooter.

John Butler Jr., New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans rookie John Butler Jr. hits six 3-pointers and scores 25 points on 9-of-9 shooting.

You definitely won’t miss Butler out on the floor as he stands out at 7-foot-1 and 174 pounds. But it’s the forward’s play that caught everyone’s attention Sunday in New Orleans’ 107-71 drubbing of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Butler poured in a game-high 25 points, sinking all nine of his attempts, in addition to burning the nets from deep at a perfect 6-for-6 clip. The 19-year-old also chipped in seven rebounds and a block, as New Orleans stormed to a 13-point second-quarter lead and never looked back.

Butler left Florida State after his freshman season, but wasn’t selected in the 2022 NBA Draft. Given Butler’s unique size, shooting touch and potential to develop into an elite rim protector, the Pelicans’ brass should be giddy about the way he closed out Summer League.

James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

It’s worth it to celebrate even the smallest of victories. So, the fact Wiseman made his fourth consecutive start Sunday against Washington represents a major triumph for the No. 2 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, who missed last season due to a knee injury.

The 21-year-old sputtered to a slow start, ending the opening half a minus-4 despite the Warriors overcoming an 11-point Wizards lead to go into intermission ahead 42-37. We tend to forget about Wiseman’s impact as a rookie playing 39 games with 27 starts while averaging 11.5 ppg and 5.8 rpg. So, while Wiseman failed to fill up the stat sheet (11 points on 5-of-13 shooting) in Golden State’s 87-77 loss, the big man succeeded in completing a crucial step in the recovery process by participating for nearly the entirety of Summer League.

Adonis Arms, Denver Nuggets

Adonis Arms finishes with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range.

Arms joins Butler in the perfect-from-3-point-range club after sinking 4 of 4 from downtown on the way to scoring a team-high 20 points in Denver’s 82-72 loss to the Utah Jazz. Arms connected on 8 of 12 from the floor, in addition to contributing three boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks for a Nuggets squad that combined for a putrid 37.7% from the field.

This undrafted high-flyer on an Exhibit 10 deal has an incredible story that screams perseverance. Undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2022, Adonis played a total of five seasons of college basketball, but only one for the Red Raiders after stops at Mesa Community College, Northwest Nazarene University and Winthrop. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll get to see more of this combo guard’s exemplary athleticism.

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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