3 min read

Thunder in July: Summer League Notebook

Thunder in July: Summer League Notebook

While in Las Vegas, Nevada for the NBA’s Summer League, The Uncontested Podcast crew is keeping a running notebook of all the sights, sounds, and other observations for Daily Thunder fans. Enjoy!

Day 1:

Sights and sounds:

  • The Thomas and Mack Center is cold. Like, cold cold. None of us packed hoodies due to the 111 degree forecast, but may need one for the games.
  • It is so easy to get distracted from the game and instead watch the tunnel. Every 30 seconds someone from the NBA world is walking out of there that you recognize. Either a GM, coach, player, media member, league personnel, etc.
  • Rockets fans were out in full force for game 1. Lots of red in the crowd. An interesting note: You know how OU Sooner’s fans will slightly alter the national anthem at a game by yelling “SOONERS!” instead of finishing the line “…and the home of the brave?” Well, Rockets aggressively yell “ROCKETS!” when that line “…and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air…” is sung. Kinda strange. Don’t know how I feel about it.
  • Speaking of the Sooners, we were in line next to Lon Kruger at the concession stand.
  • Fans are pretty wild. A couple of folks behind us made a “Man, he just isn’t looking good. It’s pretty concerning” comment about Shaedon Sharpe 40 seconds into his first game.
  • The setup the NBA has at Thomas and Mack is pretty awesome. As you walk around the concourse there is a full-scale Summer League merch setup, multiple hoops for kids to play pop-a-shot on, a place to pose for pictures with the summer league trophy, a live studio where fans can spectate, and even a booth where you can get a facial scan and be put on a bobble head.

Notes over ORL/HOU:

  • Tari Eason plays with a ton of energy, all of the time.
  • RJ Hampton did not want to pass for most of the game.
  • Paolo Banchero is backing guys down when he gets the opportunity, and he looks very comfortable out there.
  • Jabari Smith isn’t comfortable dribbling, and can’t gain separation on Paolo.
  • Paolo hit a step-back three on Jabari and Thomas and Mack was ROCKING.
  • Three fouls on Jabari in the first quarter. Not making much of an impact otherwise.
  • Captain Hook himself, Xavier Simpson, is still killing it.
  • Jabari drove left on Paolo and got one to go! This put him at 3 total points at the half.
  • RJ Hampton really, really wants this moment.
  • Tari Eason’s shot needs a lot of work.
  • Jabari’s teammates aren’t doing him any favors this game to set him up. Since he can’t do much off the dribble, he needs that help.
  • Jabari has started calling for the ball and getting some more shot attempts up. His first three-point attempt came late into the third quarter. He’s up to 10 points now.
  • Did we mention the Thomas and Mack center is cold?
  • Tons of Rockets fans in attendance. This night probably hasn’t gone how they wanted.
  • Paolo’s passing is even better than advertised.

Notes over DET/POR:

  • Jalen Duren is HUGE.
  • Pistons could run Summer League with this lineup. Jaden Ivey, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren and Killian Hayes are a fun combination of players.
  • Shaedon Sharpe remains a mystery. He put up a few shots in a few minutes, sat down on the bench, and walked back to the locker room. He’s getting an MRI on his shoulder tomorrow.
  • Throw the ball in Duren’s general vicinity and he’s dunking it. He’s the most physically imposing guy on the court.
  • Ivey’s explosiveness is so apparent in person.
  • Hayes is still struggling to make an impact on the court.
  • This was a very long Summer League game.

People we saw:

  • Doris Burke walking through our hotel lobby. Maybe we can snag her for a podcast appearance?
  • Dave McMenamin also in the hotel lobby, then literally half an hour later we saw him on ESPN while we were hanging out and watching the Thunder game. This man is efficient.
  • After seeing Malika Andrews at T&M, we ran into her, McMenamin, and Richard Jefferson at the hotel after bailing out of the arena early. That DET – POR game was long for everyone.
  • We caught Tom Thibodeau having lunch right outside of Blue Wire’s recording studio in the Wynn Hotel (you can catch The Uncontested live from that studio tonight, Friday, July 8th @ 7pm CT and Monday, July 11th @ 3pm CT).
  • Adrian Griffin and Willie Green — The New Orleans Pelicans GM and coach — were enjoying lunch right next to Thibs. This type of thing is happening all over Vegas this week. Trade talks will probably pick back up.
  • There were a TON of current and former NBA players coming through Thomas & Mack, including: Kyle Kuzma, John Wall, Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr., Jonathan Issac, Jalen Green, Wendell Carter Jr., Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Cole Anthony, DeMar DeRozan, Terrance Mann, Jarret Jack, and Matt Barnes, just to name a few.