No matter what else happened for the Thunder, the highlight of Summer League was seeing Chet Holmgren back on the court, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. After missing all of last season with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft showed off his potential in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, averaging 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in four games.
While he looked rusty in some areas, such as committing 15 turnovers and shooting 1-of-9 from three-point range, Mussatto notes that the most encouraging part of Holmgren’s game was watching him protect the basket. He averaged 3.5 blocks per game and used his 7’1″ frame to alter numerous other shots.
“Conditioning wise, there’s millions of hurdles you have to go through in the process of returning to play,” Holmgren said after his Summer League return. “Not being able to play a game for a year, it’s really hard to test and see where you are. … It’s definitely something I have to continue to work on, and I’ll be ready by the time training camp starts. I feel like I’ll have myself prepared to be in in-season shape.”
There’s more on the Thunder:
- Tre Mann was shut down in Las Vegas due to an avulsion in his right middle finger, but it’s not believed to be a long-term concern, Mussatto adds. The Thunder expect the backup point guard to resume basketball activities by the end of July.
- The selection of Jaylin Williams in the second round of last year’s draft will allow Holmgren to spend more time at power forward and avoid the physical contact that comes with playing center, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Williams is a rugged 6’10” big man who led the NBA in drawing charges last season and shot 40.7% from beyond the arc. “It’s good because it allows my length to be found in the game in different ways,” Holmgren said of playing alongside Williams. “When he’s at the five, he’s in (screen) coverage more, and I’m able to kind of move around and roam the court a little more on defense, be the low man in help and be able to come over for blocks if somebody gets beat or use my length in the passing lanes and as an on-ball defender.”
- General manager Sam Presti didn’t add anyone this summer who projects as a long-term keeper, Slater observes in the same piece. Presti opted to use his cap room to collect more draft assets while taking on the contracts of Davis Bertans, Victor Oladipo and Rudy Gay. Slater views Oladipo and Gay as buyout options, while Bertans may reach that status eventually with just $5MM guaranteed for 2024/25. Presti also traded for former first-round picks Usman Garuba and TyTy Washington, but Slater doubts that they’ll see much playing time considering the talent that’s already in place.