Leave it to the NBA to add some drama to a setting where wins and losses don't matter.
Cam Thomas, one of my studs for Sunday's roundup, left some very interesting comments after he scored 26 points against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Reporter: "I was talking to your coach Steve Nash & he's encouraging you to look for your shot & your teammates"— Jeri Tsai (@JeriTsaiNets) July 10, 2022
Cam Thomas rolls eyes "It is what it is"
Seems even sophomore Cam Thomas is tired of Steve Nash "coaching"#NetsWorld pic.twitter.com/CDfNxHVUzS
And in the final game of the evening, we even got a fan fistfight! What a bizarre environment.
I saw one dud performer from Saturday bounce back with a phenomenal game on Sunday. Several 2021 draftees, and one undrafted 2021 classmate, also showed out in Las Vegas. Here's who stood out to me from another frenetic day of young hoopers.
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
Box score stats: 23 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 7/16 FG, 4/12 3PT
The fourth overall pick has already flexed his long-range muscles, so his lukewarm day from deep struck me less than the rest of his offensive impact. Murray went 3-for-4 inside the arc. His makes came via a mid-range floater, a slipped screen he took all the way to the rim and a backdoor cut he used to finish strong through contact.
Though he only had 3 assists, Murray's passing also caught my eye. His first assist resulted from attacking a closeout, recognizing the help defense and kicking back out to an open Frankie Ferrari. Murray caught another transition pass in the first quarter that was too late for a layup, so he swung it along the baseline with his right hand to Keon Ellis, who drained the corner three. It feels like most of Summer League offense is coming easy to Murray so far when he isn't facing too much physicality.
Cam Thomas, Brooklyn Nets
I don't even think this is a foul, but Cam Thomas does such a fantastic job of making it a tough decision for the refs.— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) July 10, 2022
And when he does take contact, he is strong enough to get most shots up on the rim and convert many into makes. pic.twitter.com/UHyCb5VZ40
Box score stats: 26 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 5/17 FG, 1/3 3PT, 15/15 FT
Thomas played a great game on Sunday, even if his low field goal percentage and aforementioned eyebrow-raising postgame comments distracted viewers. Of his 7 assists, 5 came in transition, where Thomas successfully reeled in defenders before making the right play with the ball.
Love or hate it, many of today's great scorers possess a knack for getting to the free-throw line. Thomas drew a whopping 11 fouls and knocked down all of his free throws. When he feels contact, the second-year guard gets in the air quickly (like above), and with some body control and a bit of gamesmanship, can make life difficult for refs and defenses.
Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks
Quentin Grimes: hooper.— NBA (@NBA) July 10, 2022
His statline today: 24 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST 🔥 pic.twitter.com/6Qj7Km6bJj
Box score stats: 24 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 7/14 FG, 4/9 3PT
The "too good for Summer League" label gets thrown around a bit too much for my liking, and I don't know if any one player has shown that kind of dominance this summer. Grimes is certainly the closest to the moniker so far.
Grimes is just so confident as a shot-maker. His touch was back on Sunday, and he was unfazed on deep triples, even through contests. The 6-foot-5 wing also had two strong takes to the basket. His 4 assists included a sweet behind-the-back dump-off that even caught recipient Jericho Sims off-guard. Grimes and Sims later connected on another pick-and-roll finish; they have very apparent chemistry through the first handful of games in Vegas.
Mac McClung, Golden State Warriors
OKAY, MAC! 👀— NBA (@NBA) July 11, 2022
Mac McClung is HOOPING right now on NBA TV pic.twitter.com/bakO1R1VmB
Box score stats: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 9/15 FG
Jonathan Kuminga deserves fair praise for his game-high 28 points, but I want to highlight McClung because he floored me with his aggression on both ends. The undrafted guard was locked in as a defender off the ball and picked up 2 steals by reading the ball-handler and positioning himself in passing lanes. On offense, he constantly tried to play fast, and used his handle and shiftiness to change speeds and get to the basket.
McClung played just two NBA games last season and mostly spent time with the South Bay Lakers. He's had a phenomenal Summer League to date though, and has played his way to at least a two-way contract with a franchise, in my opinion.
Peyton Watson, Denver Nuggets
Box score stats: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 8/12 FG, 1/4 3PT
Watson was loud and authoritative in his breakout Summer League game. The No. 30 pick threw down some putback slams and finished off cuts in Denver's win over the Cavaliers.
Watson also notched an unassisted driving layup, and his lone assist was a nice pick-and-roll feed to rookie teammate Ismael Kamagate. Denver has given Watson some decent burn on the ball, offering brief glimpses into his potential as a playmaking, 6-foot-9 forward.
Santi Aldama, Grizzlies
Box score stats: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 blocks, 11/22 FG, 0/4 3PT
This is the Santi Aldama experience. After a listless performance on Saturday, the second-year forward put together perhaps the game of the day against the Timberwolves. He switched well on defense, picked off some transition passes and, on one play, skied over from the paint to the weak-side corner for a huge block.
Memphis fed the former Loyola Maryland Greyhound against a smaller Minnesota frontcourt. Aldama feasted in the post, on timely cuts and on some short roll plays. He's definitely best utilized as a cutter as his three-point shot remains a work in progress, but it's a joy to see Aldama active and moving all over the court.
Other deserving shoutouts: Neemias Queta (Kings), Terry Taylor (Pacers), Blake Wesley (Spurs), Jonathan Kuminga (Warriors), Collin Gillespie (Nuggets), Ty-Shon Alexander (Hornets), LJ Figueroa (Hornets), Cole Swider (Lakers), Cassius Winston (76ers), Day'Ron Sharpe (Nets)