When Joel Ayayi left the Gonzaga Bulldogs to declare for the NBA draft, it felt like he was on his way to a late first or early second round selection and a comfortable spot on a roster right away.
Unfortunately, things do not always go to plan. Ayayi ended up going undrafted and inked a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. After a disappointing run through the summer league, Ayayi was released and caught on with the Washington Wizards, where he appeared in seven games and scored two points with four assists and three rebounds in 20 total minutes of action.
He did much better in the G-League with the Capital City Go-Go’s, averaging 10.6 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game.
That wasn’t enough to keep him in Washington on a guaranteed contract, however, and he caught on with the Atlanta Hawks for the NBA summer league, where he made his first appearance on Saturday in a loss to the Jazz.
Ayayi had four points on 1-3 shooting, but also tacked on six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block, and finished with a plus/minus of 14 – which led the team.
Ayayi’s performance drew praise from Atlanta’s summer league coach, longtime NBA guard Nick Van Exel, who praised his basketball intelligence in a postgame interview.
Ayayi is already off to a better start than he had in summer league last year, but he’ll need to prove he can consistently knock down outside shots if he wants to begin the season on an NBA roster and not in the G-League again in 2022.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.