The Vegas Summer League opener for the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets featured a showdown of recent Gonzaga stars that did not disappoint. Kyle Wiltjer made his NBA Summer League debut for the Rockets, scoring 13 points on 5-11 shooting (3-9 from three) in 16 minutes off the bench. Meanwhile his counterpart, Kevin Pangos, returned to the Summer League after playing for the Mavericks last summer and led the Hawks in scoring with 16 points in an efficient 5-8 shooting effort in 22 minutes of play. The Hawks won the game 83-78.
Wiltjer immediately made his presence felt when he came off the bench for his first stint on the floor, hitting a pair of 3-pointers that demonstrated his ability to hit shots from NBA-range. For his part, Pangos was a bright spot for the Hawks, particularly in the second half when he showed the ability to control the tempo of the game, disrupt passing lanes on the defensive side of the court, and showcase his scoring and passing ability.
The highlight for Gonzaga fans was near the end of the first half when Wiltjer and Pangos finally shared the court and immediately traded buckets. Pangos showcased his ability to get to the hoop and finish, and Wiltjer immediately answered with a transition three at the other end.
After just one season of playing professional ball, it was clear to see the development made by Pangos in many areas of his game. The Hawks are in need of another point guard on their NBA roster with only Dennis Schroeder and the incredibly old Kirk Hinrich to call on. Consistent showings like the one last night could definitely lead to a training camp invite for Pangos. It’s also important to remember that the Hawks aren’t his only chance as the Summer League serves as an opportunity for him to showcase his abilities to every team around the league, especially since his rights aren’t controlled.
For Wiltjer, securing a spot on the Rockets roster may have become a little more complicated after the team signed Ryan Anderson to a 4-year, $80 million deal at the start of free agency. However, for a franchise as sabermetrically-inclined as Houston is, and in a system that values three-point shooters and is willing to overlook some defensive deficiencies, he’s still in as good a spot as he could be in at the outset of his professional career.
Both Wiltjer and Pangos played very well in their Vegas openers. Now they’ll have to show they can do it again. Wiltjer and the Rockets are next in action on Sunday (7/10/16) at 3:30 PT against the Sacramento Kings. Pangos and the Hawks play the Washington Wizards on Sunday at 1:00pm PT.