Zach Edey posted an easy double-double in Summer League debut. Here’s why he’ll succeed in NBA

Memphis Grizzlies Zach Edey, left, and Utah Jazz Walker Kessler battle for position under the boards during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Monday, July 8, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


Zach Edey‘s going to succeed in the NBA.

If you didn’t already know this by watching the 7-4 big man dominate at Purdue, lifting the Boilermakers on his giant shoulders and carrying them to an NCAA title game appearance this spring, you should have seen it in his summer league debut on Monday night.

He didn’t post Purdue numbers against the Jazz on Monday, but his ho-hum 14 point, 15-rebound performance was exactly why anyone who’s watched him should be confident. He got the better of Walker Kessler, a promising, athletic Jazz seven footer, even making the former Auburn star look like the JV going up against varsity.

On more than one occasion, Edey used his superior strength to manhandle Kessler, making the 245-pounder look small by comparison. He overpowered him in the post, scoring on turnarounds and jump hooks, and even threw down a man’s jam right on Kessler’s head after coming up with a rebound on his own miss. It must have felt real satisfying after all the doubt that surrounded Edey about his NBA prospects.

If that dunk wasn’t the highlight of the game, it was Edey’s tip-in with 0.8 seconds to go off of an intentional free throw miss, which tied it up and sent it to overtime. Jake LaRavia’s shot rattled off the rim, took a lucky, soft bounce and caromed to Edey, who had boxed Kessler out to the point where Kessler was underneath the net, completely powerless to intervene. Edey used his giant arms to tip it in, making for a Summer League Night One highlight that will no doubt foreshadow future nights in the league.

On defense, Edey was impossible to move, and he showed good mobility and athleticism while making his way up and down the court. His final stat line looked like this: 7-for-12 FG, 14 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks. Pretty damn good for your first professional game.

There are, of course, concerns about how things will translate to the NBA– whether he’s got the requisite speed, ability to move laterally, and athleticism. He’s not a three-point shooter or a pick-and-pop guy yet, and spacing the floor could be an issue. There’s a legitimate debate about whether or not Memphis, which should want to play fast with the human dynamo Ja Morant at the point, was a good fit for him at all. He probably would have worked better somewhere where he won’t clog up the paint, disrupt spacing and slow things down.

But all that won’t matter too much in the end.

Zach Edey is a 7-foot-4, 300-pound big man who was good enough to average 25.2 points and 12.2 rebounds in the Big Ten and twice win National Player of the Year. Despite all the talk about how he wouldn’t fit, he went with the 9th overall pick in the NBA draft. He’s good at basketball.

Edey will find a way in the NBA, and he’ll make an impact. It may be in the way we’re imagining, or maybe not. Maybe he’ll be good enough to give Memphis a matchup advantage other teams haven’t even thought of yet.

Sometimes, you can’t overthink these things. Sometimes, you just have to believe what your eyes are telling you.

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