For a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Summer League is a major deal. There was no difference this year, as the squad featured several members of their upcoming regular season roster.
Including the team’s last two first round draft picks in Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren. Heading into his second season, Giddey is projected to make a leap this year and he showed glimpses of strong play during Summer League play.
The NBA All-Rookie Second Team guard averaged 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds in his five Summer League games. Giddey’s best moment came during a Salt Lake City Summer League game where he posted a triple double against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Josh Giddey putting up numbers in the NBA Summer League:— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 7, 2022
14 PTS, 10 AST, 10 REB, 2 STL, 1 BLK in 28 MINS
14 PTS, 11 AST, 5 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK in 23 MINSpic.twitter.com/coFbYd1Phc
Although, Giddey’s numbers were on par to those of his rookie year, his efficiency was down. Giddey shot 26% from three least season and it would have been good for Giddey to show improvement during Summer League.
In his five performances Giddey shot 1-for-15 from behind the arc. There is no doubt the regular season will serve as a larger sample size but seeing progress in summer league would have been encouraging.
Now Holmgren was just as impressive during Summer League, just look at the stat line he posted in his debut. Holmgren went for 23 points along with seven rebounds and six blocks. The No.2 overall pick averaged 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in five Summer League games.
Through his Summer League performance Holmgren showed his versatility. He moved between carrying the scoring load and being the Thunder’s defensive anchor. This versatility will be invaluable come the regular season when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is on the court with both Holmgren and Giddey.
While Giddey and Holmgren captured the headlines, the Thunder’s other first round pick Jalen Williams was their most efficient offensive player.
The twelfth overall pick out of Santa Clara came out hot in Oklahoma City’s first four games of play. Williams averaged 14 points per game while shooting 53% from the field and 50% from three.
Aside from the standout performances, it was disappointing that the Thunder did not win the Summer League championship. They definitely had the talent to do so, the majority of the roster had played minutes for OKC in the 2021-22 regular season.
Winning Summer League would have benefited Oklahoma City in two ways. First, it would have been great to see the young players get a taste of success in the league. A Summer League title does not really mean anything but it would have been refreshing for a team who has only won 46 games in the last two years.
Secondly, the younger players could have carried over some momentum and confidence from winning into the new season.
For a rebuilding franchise like the Thunder, it’s the little things that help develop their young players. Winning a championship in could have been one of those little milestones in Oklahoma City’s attempt to build a winning culture.