Summer league games set off a Thunder storm

Joey Ross

Detroit Pistons forward Isaiah Livers, left, and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams, right, dive for the ball in this photo from March 29. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

            The Oklahoma City Thunder started their summer league schedule in Utah on July 3 with a clash against the Utah Jazz. This was a chance to see the Thunder’s star center, No. 7  Chet Holmgren, who was picked second overall in the 2022 NBA draft after missing the entire 2022-23 NBA season with a foot injury, and another chance for unproved players to generate interest from the Thunder and all the teams around the league. 

            The Thunder would open the NBA summer league with a 95-85 victory over the Jazz. Thunder forward from Santa Clara Jalen Williams earned a game-high 21 points and was able to secure four rebounds. Thunder guard Tre Mann contributed with 20 points scored, seven rebounds, and knocked down four three-pointers.

            “Jalen Williams is way too good to be out there,” said Colby Daniels of The Blitz 1170. 

             The next game Oklahoma City found on its schedule was the Memphis Grizzlies on July 5. Memphis ended that game with a 94-86 win. 

            Memphis forward Jake LaRavia led the Grizzlies in scoring with 25 points while Mann led the Thunder in scoring with 28 points.

           The Grizzlies were able to force Oklahoma City into committing 20 turnovers which enables their ability to get out in transition. Memphis only committed 13 turnovers and 14 steals while the Thunder recorded five.

           On Thursday, Jul. 6, the Oklahoma City Thunder battled the Philadelphia 76ers and won a 100-91 victory over the 76ers. 

           Once again, Mann led his team in scoring with 23 points and dishing out eight assists. Thunder forward Ousmane Dieng from France recorded a double-double by producing 22 points, snatching 10 rebounds, and shooting 83 percent from the field. 

           “Tre Mann looks even more confident and explosive offensively. Best summer league ever?” Daniels said. 

            The Thunder took on the Dallas Mavericks in their next summer league game on July 8. 

           Oklahoma City kept the Mavericks under control during the majority of the matchup and was able to execute down the stretch to seal the 91-80 victory over Dallas.

           Holmgren captured a double-double with 16 points and grabbed 10 boards. 

         “Chet Holmgren is shaking off the rust. He has looked more comfortable each game. Hasn’t utilized his length as much to create separation for outside shots and seems to prefer going to the basket than pulling up. I’m not sure how good an on-ball defender he will be, but his rim protection will be a huge asset,” Daniels said.

          Maverick’s second-year guard Jaden Hardy earned a game-high 24 points with six rebounds and four made three-pointers. 

          Thunder’s rookie guard Cason Wallace, who was drafted 10th overall from University of Kentucky, made his first appearance in a Thunder uniform.

         “Cason Wallace is smooth and decisive offensively. Confident enough to pull the trigger without hesitation but not forcing his shots either,” Daniels said. 

         Wallace led Oklahoma City with 20 points and six three-pointers made, including a half-court shot with the shot clock expiring in the win over the Mavericks.

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