As the 2023 NBA Summer League is officially over, the Blue Zone takes a look at recent Duke standouts who made their mark in the offseason competition:
DJ Steward makes statement with Philadelphia 76ers
In his third year playing professional basketball, the former Duke one-and-done guard showed out in Las Vegas. In five games played, Steward averaged 16.2 points per game while coming off the bench and only playing 17.9 minutes per contest. The former Blue Devil put up these numbers on impressive percentages as well, shooting 53.7% from the field while going an outstanding 47.6% from beyond the arc. The guard’s offensive abilities were on full display in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans, where he erupted for 36 points while going 13-for-20 from the floor and hitting five threes. To go along with his offensive explosion, Steward also added six assists and five rebounds while propelling the 76ers to a win.
Dereck Lively II debuts for Dallas Mavericks
In his first NBA action, Dereck Lively II showcased the same impact on both ends of the floor that he provided for his one year in Durham. During the five games in Las Vegas with the Mavericks, the lottery pick averaged 8.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while also anchoring the Dallas defense. The Philadelphia native shot 68 percent from the floor and added three blocks, something Duke fans grew extremely used to seeing last season. While Lively clearly still has a long way to go in his development to become a top center in the NBA, the rookie displayed why he was worth a lottery pick, with his defensive prowess likely earning him minutes for Dallas once the season begins. Lively and the Mavericks were 4-1 during Summer League play.
Note: Dariq Whitehead, the second Blue Devil along with Lively selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA draft, did not play in the Summer League as he is recovering from foot surgery.
Trevor Keels earns two-way contract with New York Knicks
During his second year playing in the Summer League, Keels turned in a solid performance for New York. In his five games played, the former Blue Devil averaged 10.8 points during 22.4 minutes per game. This is a five-point improvement from his points-per-game average in the 2022 Summer League. Keels also averaged 2.8 assists and rebounds per game. The one-and-done’s best game came against the Boston Celtics, where he put up 20 points while going 7-for-10 from the field and knocking down four threes. Due to his solid play in Summer League, Keels was signed to a two-way contract and will split time between the Knicks and their G League affiliate — the Westchester Knicks — this upcoming season.
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