The Oklahoma City Thunder boast one of the most interesting squads heading to NBA Summer League in 2023. The team will start its journey in Salt Lake City on July 3 before heading to Las Vegas and kicking off that slate on July 8. The Thunder Summer League roster features several players to keep an eye on, including the 2022 No. 2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren, who is finally getting back on the court after a foot injury cost him his entire 2022-23 campaign. Here’s what you need to know about Holmgren and the five other must-watch Thunder prospects in 2023 NBA Summer League.
Former Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren was the No. 2 selection in the 2022 NBA Draft behind Paolo Banchero, even though Holmgren was the consensus top prospect according to most draft experts. Despite that, it looks like the Orlando Magic got it right, passing on Holmgren — at least for last season — as a Lisfranc injury sidelined Holmgren for the entire year.
Now, Holmgren is back, and the 7-foot-1, 208-pound forward needs to show that his body can stand up to the rigors of the NBA game.
One interesting note here is that on the official Thunder Summer League roster, Holmgren’s weight is listed at 208 pounds, which is up 13 pounds from the 195 pounds he’s listed at on the Thunder’s official website.
NBA Summer League will be a perfect test for Holmgren, although we probably won’t see too much of him in these games. But we already know he has the skills to play in the NBA. The rough and tumble Summer League will help show if he’s up for it physically.
While the Thunder didn’t get anything out of the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the player they selected 10 picks later had an excellent season. Jalen Williams out of Santa Clara started 62 of his 75 games this season, averaging 14.1 points, 3.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 35.6% from 3-point range.
Those numbers were good enough to get Williams on the 2022-23 NBA All-Rookie team.
During Summer League, this Thunder squad will be Williams’ team, and playing with Chet Holmgren could represent 2/5 of the team’s starting lineup next season. This is an invaluable place for the young team to develop chemistry, and Willaims will be at the center of that.
Rounding out the Thunder’s three first-round picks in 2022 was No. 11, Ousmane Dieng. The French wing’s rookie season was somewhere between Chet Holmgren’s and Jalen Williams’ years.
Dieng hurt his wrist in Summer League last year, and that kicked off a season where he struggled with minor injuries throughout and spent a good amount of time down in the G League.
All told, Dieng played 39 NBA games last season and averaged 4.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. The 6-foot-10 wing likes to play on the perimeter but only shot 26.5% from 3-point range in 2022-23. In this year’s NBA Summer League, he needs to stay healthy and work on his inside game, or there will be some serious bust potential in his future.
Keyontae Johnson was one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft. At Florida, he infamously collapsed on the floor during a game due to a heart issue. Johnson ultimately recovered and finished his college career at Kansas State before the NBA medically cleared him to come into the league.
Now, as the Thunder’s No. 50 pick in the second round, Johnson will have to come into NBA Summer League this offseason and fight for a roster spot on a deep and young Thunder squad. Seeing how he plays with (and compared to) Jalen Williams — a similar player — will go a long way toward understanding Johnson’s role this coming season.
He is currently on a two-way contract, so there is likely some G League time in his future. However, Summer League will help Johnson show off his NBA chops.
One name that is not on the Thunders Summer League roster right now is 2023 No. 10 overall pick, Cason Wallace. The former Kentucky guard is not officially a member of the organization yet, as the draft day trade that brought him to Oklahoma City isn’t official just yet.
When the deal does go through, he will join his Summer League teammates — likely in Las Vegas — and will show the combo guard skills that led to him becoming a top-10 selection.
Wallace will get a chance to lead the team from the point guard position. His defensive skills will likely translate immediately in the NBA, but his offense still needs some work. This is the perfect opportunity to see if he can take a step up on that side of the court.