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Thunder in July: Thunder/Rockets Summer League Notebook

Thunder in July: Thunder/Rockets 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. Check out the latest podcast, and enjoy our latest notebook entry below:


Sights and sounds:

  • The arena was noticeably better attended today. Thursday night’s double header filled in about 75% of the lower bowl. Today the venue had to open up the nosebleed seats. Attendance is through the roof.
  • Not a sight or a sound, but a smell: There is a little stand that sells cinnamon roasted nuts on the concourse and you can smell them from about five sections away. We got the cinnamon sugar almonds. We will get them again before we leave.
  • It’s becoming more and more clear that the Thunder have some polarizing players. Fans will loudly cheer that Chet Holmgren is “too skinny” or that Josh Giddey “can’t shoot”. There were just as many people being wowed by their performances, but the stands of Thomas and Mack certainly chose one side or another.
  • Watching the Thunder game from the sidelines were Lu Dort in an incredible Tupac shirt, Theo Maledon, Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski. Notably, no Shai Gilgeous-Alexander– who just finished up playing for Team Canada and might just be busy, which is totally fine.
  • Fans cheered almost as loud as they did at any point of the night whenever the DET/WAS game was over. It was an exhausting game, and far too long.

Notes over ORL/SAC:

  • Paolo Banchero showed that even if his shot isn’t falling, he can still draw a tremendous amount of attention from the opposing defense and shred it with his passing ability. He’s far better on that front than I realized.
  • Paolo hasn’t really had a tough assignment on defense yet in his Summer League run, but he’s competed on that end more than some of the lowlights we may have seen during his time at Duke.
  • Keegan Murray is good at basketball. His game may not pop off the page, but he has shown the ability to shoot in motion from beyond the arc at an efficient rate so far and consistently make the right plays on offense and defense. Kings fans will be happy with him.

Notes over DET/WAS:

  • Jaden Ivey looked awesome right away again, but fell onto an opposing player’s ankle early on into the game and had to miss the rest of the competition. The game felt much slower in his absence.
  • Johnny Davis wasn’t featured much as a ball handler in this game, and often just stood in one corner or another making cuts when he could. He didn’t stand out at all really, and left almost no lasting impression on this game. Not a great first showing.

Notes over OKC/HOU:

  • You think Chet is really tall and really skinny. Then you see him in person. It is crazy. During one dead-ball we saw him reach up and slap the bottom of the backboard without even getting on his tippy-toes.
  • Chet is super confident. On one offensive possession he got down the floor quickly, posted up Jabari Smith Jr. one-on-one, and yelled “I’m iso’d! It’s a bucket!”
  • Chet got dunked on. The people around us were hyped that he got embarrassed. We all knew he would contest the next one, though. He ended up with four blocks (should’ve been five — that goaltending call was garbage).
  • In the second half of every Summer League game Chet has played, he’s adjusted and elevated his play. We pointed out that trend to each other before the second half of this game started. Chet went on to get all four of his blocks in that second half. The trend continues.
  • Tari Eason is still like a bat out of hell. He plays with a ton of energy, but fouls like a madman. He’s going to have to clean that up if he wants to play more than 10 minutes a game next season.
  • Jaden Williams’ athleticism really pops. He moves really well and gets off the floor super fast. Incredibly fluid. It’s hard to not think that Sam Presti has done it again with that pick.
  • Ousmane Dieng shows flashes, but plays very non-aggressively. Had multiple good drives to the basket but missed the shot because he tries to softly lay it off the glass rather than going in with force.
  • Aaron Wiggins played great tonight. His shot from beyond the arc looks awesome. He had a spectacular block in the second half. He just looks comfortable out there.
  • Giddey’s spin move in the lane is so, so good. He gets separated every time.
  • Jabari Smith had another tough game. His offensive repertoire looks a lot more limited than I thought it would be. He can’t get around anyone with his dribble, so his only option is to catch and shoot over the top of his defender, or shoot a fadeaway from the elbow. We thought that turnaround elbow jumper was nearly unblockable. Enter: J-Dub.

People we saw

  • About five or six fans wearing Josh Giddey jerseys. Actually, the only Thunder jerseys we saw were Giddey and Paul George.
  • Speaking of Thunder fans, we ran into a handful of Uncontested listeners throughout the day. Totally awesome and humbling.
  • Adrian Wojnarowski was doing his insider stuff, at one point chatting up Sean Marks (GM of the Nets), Maasai Ujiri (GM of the Raptors), and Rob Pelinka (GM of the Lakers) all at once. Everyone in the NBA world would love to eavesdrop on that discussion.
  • Woj later spent the better part of half an hour talking one-on-one with Thunder GM Sam Presti.
  • NBA fan favorite, draft evaluator, and YouTuber Keandre of Hoop Intellect.
  • Brent Barry just strolling the concourse like a normal fan.
  • Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant showed up to Thomas & Mack, realized that his team was playing next door at the Cox arena and left.