Kansas basketball alum Marcus Garrett off to a fantastic start at NBA Summer League
A pair of former Jayhawks who made a career out of making big plays during their time in Lawrence are now doing the same thing at the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas.
Miami’s Marcus Garrett and Utah’s Udoka Azubuike have been two of the bigger stories with their respective squads in the early days of the annual summer showcase.
And both have become that by doing the things that made them household college basketball names at Kansas.
For Garrett, that means stellar defense. And what he’s done for the Heat so far this summer has been off the charts even by Garrett’s lofty standards.
Whether it’s a clean pick at halfcourt that leads to an easy layup on the other end or a hustle play after a deflection on defense that gets the break started for his teammates, Garrett has shown a willingness to do anything and everything his team needs so far this summer.
Consider his blazing start as evidence of just how hot Garrett has been with the Heat.
In his first game with the club, last week in Sacramento, Garrett swiped six steals. One night later, he dropped a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds and added three assists and four more steals. Not bad for a player who went unselected in last month’s NBA draft.
Garrett’s name came up in Lawrence last week, when new Heat forward Markieff Morris was in town last week for the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic. After dropping 21 points on seven 3-pointers in the annual charity game, Morris was asked about his new team and opportunity.
“We’re pitbulls,” Morris said. “We’re dogs. We’re coming for everybody.”
The follow up question was simple: Does Marcus Garrett fit into that?
“Hell yeah,” Morris said. “Have you seen him in Summer League?”
Obviously, Morris had. And now that several others have, as well, there is a growing sense that Garrett has a real shot of making the NBA roster.
After going undrafted on July 29, Garrett signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the franchise the next day. The contract guarantees nothing but can be converted into a two-way deal with Miami and its G League affiliate.
If Garrett keeps going at this pace, other options might even surpass that.
As for Azubuike, he also is doing the things that made him a fan favorite at Kansas this summer — dominating down low and putting up big time numbers.
Azubuike had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the Utah Jazz White Team’s 94-75 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies last week. He hit all nine of his field goal attempts and was 1-of-2 from the free line with three blocks.
The 21-year-old who averaged 3.8 minutes a game in 15 games for Utah during an injury-plagued rookie season last season, also tallied eight points and 14 rebounds in another recent Summer League game.
Azubuike, who as a first-round pick by the Jazz in 2020, has the inside track on Garrett to earning a roster spot. But both have gotten off to the kinds of starts that might make them factors next fall.