The 2022 NBA summer league wrapped up on Sunday afternoon, with the Portland Trail Blazers taking home the trophy with a win over the New York Knicks.
More important is the development of the NBA’s future stars, however, and for Gonzaga fans it was a chance to see four former Zags in action as they look to secure a spot in the NBA for next season.
Chet Holmgren’s spot is obviously already secure, but he still showcased a ton of natural talent on both ends of the floor during his time with Oklahoma City.
Meanwhile, Joel Ayayi (Atlanta) Andrew Nembhard (Indiana) and Filip Petrusev (Philadelphia) were each fighting for roster spots in Las Vegas.
Below is a look at how each Gonzaga alumni performed these past few weeks, and what it means for their immediate NBA future:
Stats: 5.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals
Ayayi did a little bit of everything for the Atlanta Hawks in five summer league games, grabbing nearly six rebounds per game while tacking on 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals.
He moves extraordinarily well without the ball and has improved as a defender, but his overall scoring prowess is still lacking, and the free-for-all style of summer league ball doesn’t help him thrive the way he can in a more structured setting.
Still, Ayayi will have to prove he can shoot better than 40.7% from the field and 22.8% from deep if he wants to earn a two-way or standard NBA deal.
Stats: 14 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 2.4 blocks
Holmgren was everything advertised and more in his five games with Oklahoma City during Summer League. He showed off excellent offensive versatility in his first few games, including step-back three pointers and other moves that weren’t in his arsenal at Gonzaga.
His promise to be a 50/40/90 player in the NBA is off to a good start as well, as he eclipsed those numbers during his run through summer league.
He also looked every bit the part defensively as well, even later in the summer league when he took on a defensive role away from the rim to help hone his skills in that area.
All told, there’s little reason to doubt Holmgren’s ability to make a big impact in the NBA as soon as year one.
Stats: 6.6 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 0.8 steals
Nembhard showed flashes of excellence during his time as Indiana’s primary point guard in summer league, flirting with a triple-double and turning some heads with his highlight reel passing and overall feel for the game.
He didn’t shoot particularly well during his five games in Las Vegas, posting just a 35.1% field goal rate and only 21.8% from beyond the arc. The outside shooting is going to be a huge factor in how much playing time he earns in year one, and he’ll need to prove he can knock them down consistently if he wants to earn a rotation spot as a true rookie in 22-23.
Stats: 5.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, one assist, one steal
Petrusev was very quiet through Philadelphia’s first few summer league games, but he made a nice impression in his final game on Saturday – dropping 14 points on 5-7 shooting (1-1 from deep) along with three blocks and two rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
Whether it’s enough for him to steal a roster spot next season remains to be seen, but at the very least it was a nice showcase for other NBA (and European) teams if he does end up looking for a new team this offseason.
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.