Hoos Create Some Bright Moments In NBA Summer League

The NBA Summer League concluded this past weekend, which leaves fans without NBA basketball until October. Four former Hoos played for their respective teams this summer, however, so it is time to look back to see how they did.

Trey Murphy III

Trey Murphy III was a standout in last year’s Summer League, posting 16.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game in four games. He also shot 55.8% from the field and 44.0% from downtown. A 2021 All-Tournament First Team selection for the Summer League, Murphy was expected to come off the bench and be a solid contributor as a rookie. In his first year, he shot 38.2% from 3-point range in the regular season and it jumped to 47.4% in six playoff games.

One bright area this summer has been his ability to create for himself. Last season, Murphy attempted 277 shots with 186 being from 3. In other words, he was unable to make plays off the dribble and typically settled for a shot beyond the arc. Murphy is able to get to open spots, but his 6’9”, 209-pound athletic frame can be used for more than just spot-up shooting. He fits into that 3-and-D mold that pairs nicely with what the New Orleans Pelicans will run, especially when Zion Williamson returns. In the Summer League, his game has transcended past just taking threes.

In his two Summer League games this year, Murphy averaged 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game, along with .500-.267-.882 shooting splits. Because of his woes from deep, he had to find other ways to score. Instead of shooting spot-up 3’s, he has been able to make put his head down and get to the rim with ease.

Against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Pelicans shot 27.5% from the field, and Murphy shot 7-16 and 1-9 from deep in his own right. He still finished the game with 23 points, thanks to his 8-8 shooting from the foul line. That went along with 4 steals but 4 turnovers, too.

In his second game, the Pelicans routed the Atlanta Hawks, 101-73. Murphy exploded for 30 points, and his shooting woes were gone as he went 10-18 from the field and 3-6 from behind the arc. Along with this, he shot 7-9 from the charity stripe and was a +19 in 33 minutes. He only had 2 turnovers as well. After this game, he did not appear again for the Pelicans’ Summer League team, which bodes well for Murphy, as teams do not like to play meaningful role players deep into Summer League.

In his one season at Virginia, he shot 50-40-90, so the shooting touch is there. He can be consistent scoring at any of the three levels, but he can evolve his game to become a more dangerous offensive weapon if he can get to the rim at times to complement his strong outside shooting.

Sam Hauser

For the Boston Celtics, Sam Hauser was the only player who had a guaranteed contract heading into Summer League. He had a disappointing summer, as he struggled in his first game and was injured in his second. Based on the contract he got earlier in July, Hauser seems to be part of the Celtics’ plans, even without a big summer. He shoots the three ball well, and for what the Celtics have, this is all they really are asking out of him.

Hauser signed a two-way contract with the Celtics after going undrafted in the 2021 Draft. His showing with the Maine Celtics earned him a standard NBA contract, which allowed him to see some time in the NBA Finals. The Celtics subsequently signed him to a three-year deal but still wanted to see what he could do in the Summer League.

Last summer, he impressed the Celtics by shooting 46.2% from deep on 5.2 attempts, and he continued this by making 43.2% on threes in 6.1 minutes a game. In his one-and-a-half games this summer, Hauser averaged 9.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game, while shooting 28.6% from the field and 25.0% from past the arc. For all shooters, they all have some good games and bad games, and it was no different for Hauser. He shot 2-12 overall and 1-9 from three, but did pick it up in his second game, scoring 12 points on 4-9 shooting and 3-7 from distance. He suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter that shut him down for the remainder of summer basketball.

Braxton Key

Braxton Key was named All-NBA G-League Second Team and to the All-Defensive Team while playing for the Delaware Blue Coats. He has bounced between the G-League and NBA rosters, but he seemed to have found a potential home in Detroit. After signing a 10-day contract this past March, he earned a two-way contract with the Pistons. In nine games, he averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game.

In the Summer League, he once again was impressive. In five games, Key compiled 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks. He also shot 47.7% from the field and 35.3% from beyond the arc. He was one of the best performers for the Pistons, as he finished in the top 5 in each of the above stats. Taking a look at his first two games, he had statlines of 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in game one. In the next game, he had 14 points on 6-8 shooting, along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. These stats and the effort he gives exemplify the type of role player he can be.

Key does enough of the little things to make an impact and has proven to be an all-around, versatile player, something numerous NBA teams are looking for. He showed off his physical abilities on defense and was an unselfish player on offense, both of which can allow him to stick at the NBA level.

Jay Huff

After going undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft, Jay Huff was picked up by the Washington Wizards. He was waived by the Wizards, but he joined the Los Angeles Lakers on a two-way contract and has spent time in the G-League with the South Bay Lakers. In the California Classic and Summer League, Huff exhibited valuable skills.

The 7’1” Huff has been one of the top rim protectors this summer. He averaged 3.5 blocks in the Summer League, along with 2.5 in the California Classic. He has not been simply standing around the paint, as he has shown great defensive awareness in his weak-side rotations to get to where he needs to be. Add this in with only 6 fouls, and Huff may be called up during the season at times due to his shot-blocking ability alone.

It does not stop there for Huff, as he shot 40.0% and 66.7% from deep in San Francisco and Las Vegas, respectively. It is a small sample size, as he only attempted 8 3’s total this summer, but his time at Virginia signifies this is sustainable. In his senior year, he shot 3.0 3-point attempts per game, and converted at a 38.7% clip. Generally, a player who has success from the foul line can also see it translate to other scoring levels. His free throws were at 75.0%, and he also shot 69.2% from the field in Summer League.

One knock on Huff may have been his rebounding, as he only had 3 in just over 18 minutes per game. Despite this, he averaged 6.5 in the California Classic and 6.1 in his 28 games with the South Bay Lakers.

Overall, Huff may have done enough to be called up sometimes this season. The Lakers current center situation consists of Thomas Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Damian Jones, and none of them have a consistent shot from deep. Huff would give the Lakers some rim protection and floor spacing, as the Lakers were 21st in 3-point percentage.