James Palmer Jr. Dazzles in NBA Summer League Debut
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

James Palmer Jr. Dazzles in NBA Summer League Debut

July 08, 2019

James Palmer Jr. had to wait an extra two days to make his NBA Summer League debut — an earthquake shook the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas Friday night and canceled the Phoenix Suns’ first game — but the wait proved worth it.

The former Nebraska guard led his team in scoring with 23 points, added four boards, a steal and an assist against just one turnover in 33 minutes, and led a come-from-behind overtime win over the New York Knicks, 105-100. And that’s a Knick team starting players who were significant rotation pieces last season, like wing Kevin Knox and center Mitchell Robinson.

The Suns trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but Palmer kept his team in the game with 10 of his 23 in the frame after just nine in the first half. Maybe the most impressive part of the performance was his marksmanship from 3-point range. His first in-game experience with the extended 3-point line saw Palmer shoot 4-for-7 from distance (with two in that third). 

The first came off the left wing on a dribble-handoff. Palmer’s guy went under the screen, so he rose up and knocked it down.

Then he curled off a screen on a baseline out-of-bounds play, RJ Barrett — the Knicks’ third overall pick in this year’s draft — went under again and Palmer buried another. 

His guy goes under the screen again; Palmer buries another.

Palmer struggled to shoot the ball his final season in Lincoln, finishing the year at 36.9 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3, but his reputation as a bucket-getter held up. He went undrafted in the June 20 draft and was later picked up by the Suns for a spot on their Summer League roster. He’s playing for a contract, but not just with the Suns. More performances like Sunday’s should earn him a few more sets of eyeballs as play rolls on. 

The Suns are back in action on Tuesday, July 9, on NBA TV against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip is set for 5:30 p.m. CT. 

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