Recapping Isaiah Roby and James Palmer Jr. in the NBA Summer League
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Recapping Isaiah Roby and James Palmer Jr. in the NBA Summer League

July 14, 2019

The Dallas Mavericks, featuring Isaiah Roby, fell in the first round of the Las Vegas Summer League tournament on Saturday night. With that loss, the run by former Huskers in Vegas has come to an end.

The Mavericks, featuring former Husker and second-round draft pick Isaiah Roby, went 3-1 in pool play to qualify for the eight-team playoff as the No. 6 seed.

The Phoenix Suns, including former Husker and undrafted free agent James Palmer Jr., went 2-1 in pool play but did not qualify for bracket play in part because their first game got canceled by the earthquake that rocked the western part of the United States. The Suns blew out the Chinese National Team in their consolation game on Sunday to wrap up their stay in Vegas.

Roby, taken 45th overall, was Dallas’ only draft pick this season and was one of two players on the summer league roster drafted by the Mavericks, joining 2018’s 60th overall pick in Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Roby started every game and played 29.2 minutes per but he was pretty up-and-down, showing off all the good and the bad that we saw from him in Lincoln. He averaged 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.8 turnovers and 2,2 stocks (steals plus blocks while shooting 42.9% from the field, 23.1% from 3 (3-of-13) and 71.4% from the free-throw line (5-of-7).

Roby’s best performance came in a 113-81 blowout of the Houston Rockets in Dallas’s second game. He put up 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting (1-of-4 from deep), hit his only free throw, grabbed seven boards, dished out three assists to just one turnover  and recorded two steals and two blocks.

Against Croatia, Roby hit all four of his shots including a 3-pointer for nine points while adding six rebounds, one assists and one turnover. In the other three games, he totaled 21 points on 27 field goal attempts and six free-throw attempts.

Currently, the Mavericks have 14 guaranteed contracts on the books not including Roby who has not signed to this point. NBA teams are allowed a max of 15 regular spots and two two-way contract spots. Last year, the Mavericks signed Antetokounmpo to a two-way contract rather than a full-time NBA deal. 

As for Palmer, he had a strong run in Vegas overall, though he did show his weaknesses along with his strengths. Despite losing out on his first opportunity to make an impression, palmer made the most of the chances he did get and got buckets in a very Palmer-like fashion.

Phoenix dominated China in the consolation team and coach Willie Green chose to give the bench the majority of the playing time. Palmer started in all four games but only played 10 minutes in the fourth, finishing with four points on a bucket and a pair of free throws. With that fourth game dragging down his numbers, Palmer still averaged 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 turnovers and 2.0 stocks in 28.8 minutes per game.

Palmer made a big splash in his first game with 23 points then followed it up with 18 and 11 in Phoenix’s next two. However, his efficiency wasn’t great as he shot 43.6% from the field, 35% from 3 and 83.3% from the foul line. Palmer came out hot from deep, shooting 4-of-7 in a 105-100 win over New York to open Summer League play, but shot just 3-of-13 beyond the arc in the last three games. 

I doubt that Palmer has played his way into a true NBA contract, but perhaps he has put himself on the radar from teams looking for two-way contract prospects or at least training camp bodies.

The Huskers may be gone, but the bracket continues without them as the semifinals are set for Sunday night. No. 8 seed Memphis faces No. 4 seed New Orleans while No. 7 Brooklyn takes on Minnesota. The championship game is set for Monday night.

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