Summer League in Review: The Long Shotsimage via Thunder

Summer League in Review: The Long Shots

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We’re digging in on the Summer League performances, of which the Thunder had heaps.

Previous player breakdowns

Chet Holmgren

Gabe Brown

Jaden Shackelford

Abdul Gaddy

Kevin Kangu

Robert Baker

Contextualizing the numbers

Most exhibition statistics, primarily the percentages from the field, have little to no correlation to players’ output during real NBA minutes. The Summer League is more about the process and how these players are doing what they are doing on the floor.

This helpful guide by Owen Phillips showcases which Summer League numbers are sticky when projecting a player in their first season:

  • Three Point Attempts
  • Assists
  • Blocks
  • Offensive Rebounds
  • Field Goal Attempts

As Phillips shows, all of these categories are less affected by statistical noise when compared to their counterparts. The least correlated stats from Summer League are:

  • FT%
  • Three Point %
  • Steals
  • Free Throw Attempts
  • FG%

With these caveats out of the way, we’ll be digging into how OKC’s young prospects performed in Utah and Vegas.

Eugene Omoruyi

As a two-way guy signed before Summer League, Eugene Omoruyi had the chance to impress the team. Omoruyi is 25, and was an older prospect coming out of his draft class. I thought his energy and physical presence stood out to me the most, as he was running the break effectively and hustling on defense. He averaged a respectable 8.2 points in only 16 minutes of action but struggled to get anything going from beyond the arc. Despite being more of a guard, he is not much of a playmaker for others and does not have a reliable jump shot. He wasn’t bad by any means, but his performance didn’t stand out to me at all. I do find it interesting that he didn’t play in the final game, so maybe the Thunder have plans of keeping him?

Gabe Brown and Jaden Shackelford

The two undrafted free agents of the 2022 Thunder class, Gabe Brown and Jaden Shackelford each played sparingly during Summer League. Before I get into how they played, I just find it so interesting watching UDFAs play during these games: these players are hoping to stand out in some way, and usually you appeal to the naked eye by scoring the ball. If you watch a lot of guys fighting for their careers like Brown and Shackelford are doing, they are reluctant to pass the ball. I always try to include this caveat when watching players like this. While it’s nice to not be a ball hog, especially in the final games of Summer League where almost every important player is out, you gotta let it fly in your window of opportunity.

Gabe Brown was a legitimately awesome shooter in college. At 6’8, that alone can make you an NBA player if you do it at a high enough level. He got up 5.8 threes per game in only 18 minutes of action when he played, and hit them at a 34.5 percent clip. The form isn’t the prettiest, but he has a long track record of being a knockdown shooter. I am intrigued to see if he can hang on as an NBA player, potentially with the Thunder. I wasn’t too impressed by his play, but I wasn’t grimacing while he was out there either. His baseline of being a tall wing shooter is enough to give him a chance in this league.

Jaden Shackelford is in a similar mold to a player like Rob Edwards, who the Thunder have had in their G-League for years. I was intrigued when OKC signed him as a UDFA and remain so. He is sort of a combo guard shooter who excels in situations like Summer League, and he was 6 for 17 from three in his two games played. Oklahoma City was really lacking ball handling when he was out there to set him up for open shots. While he might barely sniff the NBA in his career, he should be an electrifying player in the G-League and wherever else he plays his basketball. I’m not ruling out the possibility he can make it in this league. We barely got to see either of these guys play much, so it’s hard to judge off of such a small sample.

Abdul Gaddy, Kevin Kangu, Robert Baker

Abdul Gaddy is 30 years old and Kangu and Robert Baker barely played. Gaddy has an intriguing past as a player and seems to be a pretty awesome passer. These three are long shots, and I wish them the best of luck.