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Run it Back: Isaiah Roby Wrecks Butler
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Five Former Huskers Wrap Up Competition at NBA Summer League

July 18, 2023

The NBA Summer League wrapped up on Monday night in Las Vegas as the Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Houston Rockets to claim the 2023 title.

Between the three different Summer Leagues (the California Classic, the Salt Lake City Summer League and Vegas), the basketball lasted a full two weeks and a day and five former Huskers took part.

Isaiah Roby, New York Knicks

The veteran among the group, Roby has four NBA season under his belt (though his rookie year consisted of just three NBA games). You don’t often see a player with his tenure in the league still playing in Vegas, but Roby is doing everything he can to stick in the league and that includes playing in Summer League with his new team, the Knicks.

Recent History Says Isaiah Roby's Second-Round Status Is No ProblemAfter a quality 2021-22 season with Oklahoma City, the Thunder waived Roby to make room for other young prospects on the roster. San Antonio picked Roby up off waivers and he played 42 games for the Spurs last season before San Antonio also cut him in March to make room for another player.

The Knicks signed Roby in April in order to get him under contract for the offseason to get a look at him heading into 2023-24. That look included Summer League, where he played in four of the Knicks’ five games.

Roby played 26 minutes per game, averaging 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.5 turnovers while shooting 50% from the field, 25% from 3 and 71.4% from the free-throw line. 

Roby’s best game came in a 97-89 win against the Celtics as he put up 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steals and one block while shooting 6-of-9 from the field with a 3 and 4-of-6 from the foul line. The Knicks sat him for their final game against Denver after the strong showing against the Celtics.

Roby’s contract is not guaranteed, but the Knicks currently only have 12 fully guaranteed contracts on their books and one true power forward on the roster in Julius Randle. That would point to Roby having a strong chance of making the opening day roster.

Bryce McGowens, Charlotte Hornets

Bryce McGowens landed with the Charlotte Hornets in the second round of last year’s draft, initially signing a two-way contract before the club converted him to a standard deal mid-season. He signed a four-year contract, though the deal is not guaranteed past the 2023-24 season.

Photo by Eric Francis.

The Hornets were one of six teams that participated in the California Classic, giving Charlotte two extra games in addition to the five in Vegas. Unfortunately, the team struggled mightily, losing its first six games before finally scoring a win to finish up. The team featured all four of Charlotte’s 2023 draft picks — Brandon Miller (No. 2), Nick Smith Jr. (No. 27), James Nnaji (No. 31) and Amari Bailey (No. 41) — plus two 2021 first-rounders — James Bouknight (No. 11) and Kai Jones (No. 19) — in addition to McGowens and others.

The team had a lot of score-first players but didn’t really have a true point guard or many floor spacers, and the offense was pretty disjointed as a result. Each of the draft picks had their moments, but none of them played consistently well. That included McGowens.

The one-and-done Husker played in Charlotte’s first six games, averaging 12.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 26.5 minutes per game while shooting just 33.3% from the field including 27.3% from deep.

McGowens’ best game was his last. After struggling to knock down shots in the first five games, he put up 19 points with four rebounds and an assist in 27 minutes against New Orleans, shooting 4-of-7 from 3-point range. He sat out the finale against Minnesota alongside most of the other draft picks.

This is going to be a big year for McGowens as he seeks to show the Charlotte front office that he can be part of the team’s core moving forward.

Trey McGowens, Brooklyn Nets

Photo by Eric Francis

The elder McGowens brother went undrafted last year and spent last season in the G League with Brooklyn’s affiliate, the Long Island Nets. He played in 23 games off the bench, averaging 3.7 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 10.3 minutes per game.

The Nets gave Trey a spot on their Summer League team as well, though he only made two appearances in Vegas totaling six minutes on the court. He played four minutes in Brooklyn’s 92-71 win against Milwaukee, converting a three-point play, grabbing a rebound and notching a steal.

Dalano Banton, Boston Celtics

The Celtics featured two former Huskers on their Summer League team.

Photo by John Peterson.

First, after two seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Dalano Banton signed a two-year deal with the Celtics, a deal the club officially announced on Sunday. Banton only played in two games for the Celtics in Vegas.

In a 95-90 win against the Lakers, Banton put up 12 points, six assists, three rebounds and a steal in 30 minutes, though he shot a frigid 3-of-19 from the field including 1-of-7 from 3. In the following game, the 97-89 loss to Roby and the Knicks, he was much more efficient as a scorer with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (2-of-6 from 3) plus nine rebounds and a block, but he turned the ball over four times to just two assists.

To stick in the league long term, Banton will have to continue to polish up his jumper and show he can be effective in the half-court in addition to making plays in transition, where he’s already shown great signs with his length and vision.

Sam Griesel, Boston Celtics

The newest Husker looking to go pro, Lincoln native Sam Griesel also played with the Celtics in Vegas. 

Photo by John S. Peterson.

While two Huskers on the same team might have been a cool thing to see for Nebraska fans, Banton actually impacted Griesel’s playing time as he saw four total minutes between the two games Banton played in (which makes sense as they’re both big, nontraditional point guards).

Overall, Griesel played in four of the five games, averaging 18.0 minutes per game and contributing 3.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.8 turnovers while shooting 4-of-11 from the field including 1-of-4 from 3.

Griesel saw 14, 15 and 13 minutes in the three games Banton didn’t play in. His best showing was his last, a 94-77 win against Orlando. Griesel finished with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals whole shooting 3-of-5 from the field including 1-of-2 from 3.

The next step for Griesel will likely take him overseas, but I’m sure the NBA Summer League was a cool way to begin his professional career.

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