The NBA summer league became even more important for NBA hopefuls this year with the addition of two-way contracts, which expanded NBA rosters to 17 players. Peter Jok’s sharpshooting and Jarrod Uthoff’s performance in the G-League and with the Dallas Mavericks last year earned them spots in summer league this year.
Jok, who quickly signed with the New Orleans Pelicans after going undrafted, is trying to impress any NBA team to earn a training camp invite. On the other hand, Uthoff is fighting to have his contract become fully guaranteed in 2017-18 after Dallas traded him to the Houston Rockets this off-season. Unfortunately, neither player saw consistent minutes in summer league.
Uthoff’s Rockets lost in the first round of the Las Vegas Summer League Tournament, and he struggled to find playing time. Uthoff only played in two of Houston’s four games, recording a mere nine minutes. As expected from nine minutes of action, Uthoff’s stat line isn’t very impressive. He shot 0-for-4 from the field, 0-for-2 from three and 1-for-2 from the line, finishing with one point, four rebounds and an assist.
Uthoff wasn’t overly impressive with the Sacramento Kings' summer league team last year, despite averaging 17.4 minutes per game, but still earned a training camp invite from the Toronto Raptors. Therefore, his minimal playing time doesn’t mean Houston will move on from him. That said, Houston didn’t seem extremely interested in him, either. Multiple big men like Zhou Qi, Chinanu Onuaku, Isaiah Hartenstein, Cameron Oliver and Erik McCree all played more minutes than Uthoff. It’s hard to judge a player based on nine minutes, but my guess is that Houston doesn’t see Uthoff as a legitimate candidate for a roster spot.
Consistent minutes are extremely important for shooters, which made it hard for Jok to find a rhythm in summer league. Jok played five minutes, recording one rebound, assist and steal on 0-for-2 3-point shooting in his first game. He didn’t play in the second half after he shot a contested three while dribbling out the shot clock.
Peter Jok with his first shot for the Pelic...Oh man... pic.twitter.com/EZ16tzZo1a
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) July 7, 2017
That led to Jok not seeing any playing time in New Orleans’ second game. However, after the Pelicans shot 3-for-20 from three in an 84-82 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Jok played 15 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets. He didn’t shine, but he put together a decent stat line: 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 2-for-4 shooting and 1-for-2 3-point shooting. Still, Northwestern’s Sanjay Lumpkin, who shot 0-for-3 with four turnovers in 17 minutes through New Orleans first three games, played six minutes in the Pelicans first tournament game compared to Jok never leaving the bench. Summer League concluded with Jok not playing in New Orleans' final game, either.
Jok, as expected, never had a chance to be New Orleans go-to-scorer like he was for Iowa as a senior last season. He was also buried behind James Young, Quinn Cook, Isaiah Cousins and Lumpkin as a 3-point specialist. Again, little playing time in summer league doesn’t mean Jok’s NBA hopes are over. But it doesn’t bode well for a player trying to prove his worth to NBA teams.
It's hard to get a gauge on Uthoff and Jok's NBA future given their minimal playing time. Both might receive a training camp invite, but going overseas could be even more enticing if they feel they won't make an NBA roster. As we saw last season, playing in the G-League helped Uthoff sign with Dallas late last season, but it's also a lot less money.