The most closely contested NBA 2K24 Summer League game on Tuesday also featured some of the day’s most eye-catching performances. Portland’s 97-93 victory against Charlotte saw key prospects for both teams show why they represent a large portion of their respective teams’ futures. Here’s a look at how they and others stood out in Las Vegas:
Shaedon Sharpe and Kris Murray, Portland Trail Blazers
Already one of the best in-game dunkers in the league, Sharpe showed a more complete package in amassing 26 points, shooting 2-for-4 from downtown and earning a whopping 11 free throw attempts. The seventh overall pick in the 2022 Draft and still just 20 years old, Sharpe will likely play a large role in however the Blazers’ near future unfolds.
Ditto for Murray, the 23rd overall pick from this year’s Draft. The 6-foot-8 guard shot an efficient 7-for-12 overall and 4-for-7 on 3-pointers to go along with seven rebounds. It was a big bounce-back game for Murray, who scored zero points in 17 minutes in his last outing.
Brandon Miller and Nick Smith Jr., Charlotte Hornets
The No. 2 overall pick looked the most comfortable he’s been so far in Summer League, putting up 26 points on a crisp 8-for-15 shooting day to go with six rebounds, two assists and two blocks with just one turnover. Miller’s entire skill set was on display, including off the dribble, playmaking for others and the variety of shots he was able to put down.
Smith Jr., taken 27th overall in the same Draft, led the Hornets with 33 points and shot 65%, including 4-for-5 from downtown. His turnovers (six) were a touch high, but the right moves he made show plenty of potential to eventually stamp down the wrong ones. Smith Jr. boasts the kind of quick bounce and shot-taking you just can’t teach.
Malaki Branham, San Antonio Spurs
With Victor Wembanyama sitting out the rest of Summer League, the floor is open for several Spurs to make a bigger impression. Branham did so to the tune of 29 points on 12-for-20 shooting and was 5-for-6 on 3-pointers, too. Just one turnover added to an impressive outing for Branham, a first-round pick by the Spurs in 2022. The 20-year-old befitted from plenty of reps in his rookie season. If he can show true 3-point improvement in NBA game settings, he’ll be primed for a big step forward in 2023-24.
Jordan Ford, Sacramento Kings
Efficient point guard play is a welcome find at Summer League, and Ford provided some in his 30 minutes for Sacramento. Undrafted out of Saint Mary’s in 2020, Ford has logged multiple seasons in the NBA G League while refining his game. The 25-year-old playmaker exhibited some of those improvements on Tuesday, scoring 25 points on an efficient 9-for-16 shooting (4-for-7 on 3s) while dishing out eight assists to just one turnover. It was a welcome turnaround for Ford, who was coming off an less than stellar performance against the Clippers the day before.
Javon Freeman-Liberty, Chicago Bulls
Speaking of heady point guard play, Freeman-Liberty appears again on Summer Standouts thanks to his 28 points (9-for-17 shooting, 3-for-7 on 3s), six assists and zero turnovers in the Bulls’ win against the Kings. He proved himself an efficient playmaker with the G League’s Windy City Bulls last season after going undrafted. The Bulls — who saw Patrick Beverley depart via free agency and likely won’t have Lonzo Ball next season, either — could keep an eye on the 23-year-old Freeman-Liberty’s development.