A busy two weeks of NBA Summer League action finally concluded last night in Las Vegas with the Portland Trail Blazers defeating the Los Angeles Lakers to win the Las Vegas Summer League championship. The event featured 82 games, and all 30 teams participated. The Utah Summer League also featured four teams, two of which featured Red Raiders.
Three former Red Raiders got action in summer league, with Zhaire Smith playing on the 76ers trying to make a strong first impression to the tough fans of Philadelphia, Zach Smith getting to play on the Trae Young led Atlanta Hawks team, and Tommy Hamilton got to play a little for San Antonio. Keenan Evans did not play for the Pistons as he rehabbed his toe injury.
Zhaire Smith, Philadelphia 76ers
After being traded on draft night for local Philadelphia product Mikal Bridges, many Sixers fans were pretty upset with the acquisition of Zhaire Smith, as they believed his raw skillset would not translate to their team and help Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid lead the team to success next year.
While Smith was only able to score 7.7 Points a game on 32% shooting (20% from three) in six games, Sixers fans were left raving about his feel for the game and his extreme athleticism and strong defensive potential. Smith’s best game came when he put up 16 points, three rebounds, and three assists against the Lakers in a losing effort. His surprising playmaking ability and excellent athleticism were on display in this game.
Unfortunately, Zhaire’s summer league was capped off with a disappointing five point showing on 2-8 shooting, however throughout the week in Las Vegas Zhaire was able to show promises of what makes him such a promising player.
Zach Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Getting playing time was a struggle for Zach Smith early on in summer league, however in Las Vegas he managed to put in his best two performances in his last three games. In three games in Salt Lake City, Zach only got nine minutes per game, and was only able to put up 3.3 Points a game with two rebounds. In the first three games in Vegas for the Hawks, Smith only played in one game, scoring four points and grabbing five rebounds against the Trail Blazers.
In the knockout round it seemed as if Smith would be forced to watch his team lose in a landslide, as he sat on the bench for most of the first half while the Hawks fell down 27 points to the Indiana Pacers. Zach was put in the game early in the third quarter down 27 points, and by the time he left the game mid fourth quarter, the Hawks were within five points. He re-entered the game with three minutes left, and helped preserve a shocking Hawks comeback. Smith ended with seven points and six rebounds, and was a team high +27 in only 21 minutes.
Zach played sparingly against the Blazers in the second round of the playoffs, as he only scored one point in twelve minutes. In the consolation game against the Clippers, Zach would have his best game of the summer league, as he put up ten points and five rebounds on 4-7 shooting in 34 minutes. While the numbers were not flashy, Zach’s summer league could net him a potential two way contract down the line.
Tommy Hamilton IV, San Antonio Spurs
While Tommy Hamilton was with the Spurs organization all summer, his only action in either Utah or Las Vegas came in the consolation round of the Las Vegas Summer League, where he put up four points on 2-5 shooting in eight minutes in a 90-55 loss to the Suns. Hamilton did not get much of a chance to showcase his abilities, however hopefully the work with an NBA training staff will help him along in his professional basketball future.
Where do you see Zach and Tommy playing year? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!