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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Former Tigers following paths to the NBA

Terry Davis

LAS VEGAS — The University of Memphis Basketball team has three players from last season playing in this year’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Specifically, that’s Jalen Duren (Detroit), Josh Minot (Minnesota) and Lester Quinones (Golden State). 

Also making an unexpected appearance was the former No. 2 overall pick by Golden State a couple of years ago, James Wiseman.

Each was impressive in his opening game.  

Duren’s first game was in Las Vegas against the Houston Rockets. He wowed the crowds with his power dunks. Duren is playing alongside fellow lottery pick Jalen Ivey. The duo is looking to put the Pistons back into the playoffs.

Minot made his first summer league appearance in Las Vegas. He recorded a double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds). A late bloomer in high school, Minot made an impression with the NBA scouts last season when they were invited to a workout on campus. He was chosen in the second round by the Timberwolves.

Undrafted, Quinones signed a two-way contract with the world champion Golden State Warriors. He showed his shooting touch in the first two games in the California Summer League played last week in San Francisco. He will also play in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Each team will play four games in Las Vegas.

Duren is one of three players with the most pressure to deliver in his rookie year.  Minot is considered a project and will spend a lot of time in the development league as he polishes his skills to the professional level.

Former Tigers Lester Quinones (left) and James Wiseman are teammates once again, this time with Golden State. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Wiseman has had an injury-plagued two years in a short NBA career. He looked all the hype in his first public game in his summer league appearance against the San Antonio Spurs. He got the fans out of their seats early with an opening possession dunk. 

While on a minute’s restriction, Wiseman was dazzling in his time. He blocked shots and ran the court well. He even connected on a three-point basket. 

For the most part, he played like the piece the Warriors want him to be. He has been rumored to be on the trading block in a possible reunion of Kevin Durant back to the Warriors.

Of the four former Tigers, two (Duren and Wiseman) should be on the NBA roster most of the year.  Quinones and Minot likely will be in the G-League and make occasional appearances in NBA games.

Quinones and Wiseman were part of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway’s first No. 1 class in 2018 and will be playing together to start the season at Golden State.

You can never put too much stock in what a player does in the summer leagues.  There have been instances where players shined in the classic and it did not translate to actual NBA games.

Others have had a so-so summer league and went on to flourish in the NBA.


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