The Las Vegas Summer League is over. Houston Rockets finished the season with a 2-3 record after losing to the Sacramento Kings with a score of 92-81. However, several emerging stars are featured by the league, but sadly they won’t be on the NBA rosters for the upcoming season. Meanwhile, it’s crucial to avoid judging a player too high or too negatively based on their performance in these five games. They got selected to play this league less than a month ago, and the way they played was phenomenal, and they are getting used to their brand-new status. Let’s take a look at the talking points of this Summer League.
The Young Lad Jabari Smith Jr
Jabari Smith Jr, the crown jewel of the draft has been exceptionally well in this small sample of games. Although he got compared to the other two stars Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren, who got drafted ahead of him, he had created his world. However, his states in these five games don’t fully articulate his full capability, but he just turned 19, and there is a long run ahead for him. Nonetheless, he has all the necessary ingredients for a lethal offense. He only needs to improve his ball handling, and after that, he will be unstoppable. He might have learned from this experience that he needs to be confident and not hesitate while taking a shot.
Tari Eason is Everything
The voracious Tari Eason was everything as advertised. He has a never-ending motor, and when you combine his energy with his wingspan, he’ll probably be a go-to defender early in his career. He scored 86 points in five summer league games with 50 rebounds and nine assists. He is an absolute beast, and stopping him would be the wildest dream of the opponent’s defense.
Based solely on their defensive prowess Smith and Eason can have successful careers. Although Smith isn’t ready to take the center position just yet as his body develops, he will be able to take that position frequently in the upcoming years. He is a number four position player who can play at number three if he improves his dribbling.
Both Smith and Eason have shown that they are not afraid on defense rather they willingly take on the challenge. They showed promising defensive skills against the Sacramento Kings, and with them, on the defense, the Rockets will go nuts in each game. On top of that, Jabari Smith Jr. said a week ago that defense was his “greatest attribute.”
The Backup Point Guard Role
There was a lot of up-and-down lead guard play between Daishen Nix and TyTy Washington Jr. The offense stalled, and the players who depended on others to pass the ball to them didn’t play to their full potential, which got explained by the trickle-down effect of the point guards’ inconsistent play. Nevertheless, both players displayed brief flashes of promise and will continue to compete for minutes behind Kevin Porter Jr.
Josh Christopher to have an Opportunity to Make Some Noise this Year
Jaygup was the Summer League team’s “veteran” player this year. Even though he only participated in three of the five games and shot poorly in those, he still displayed a sense of urgency and acknowledged that he was the better athlete. He averaged an astounding eight free throw attempts per game, which are not something to sneeze at. Christopher should have plenty of opportunities to contribute off the bench in year two, given the actual roster’s guard pecking order, depending on how the final roster is put together. He might even start as the first guard off the bench.
Unfortunately, the big man couldn’t play due to injury. We can only hope that the ankle problem that kept him out of the Las Vegas Summer League heals quickly and that he can resume playing.