Duke basketball alums: McCain impresses, Filipowski struggles in Summer League debuts

The NBA summer league is underway and the two 2024 Duke draft picks, Jared McCain and Kyle Filipowski, had vastly different debuts as professionals.
2024 NBA Salt Lake City Summer League - Oklahoma City Thunder v Philadelphia 76ers
2024 NBA Salt Lake City Summer League - Oklahoma City Thunder v Philadelphia 76ers / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

Though the July sports calendar is rather barren, at least until the Paris Olympics begin, the NBA Summer League does provide fans with an opportunity to see some of the 2024 draft picks in action as professionals for the first time. Of course, for Duke fans, that means keeping an eye on Jared McCain and Kyle Filipowski.

Both Duke alums are participating in the Salt Lake City, Utah league. And each made his debut on Monday.

McCain had the better showing by far. Playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, he posted 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists in a 102-92 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, there was one strange facet of his performance.

Known as perhaps the best 3-point shooter in the 2024 NBA Draft, McCain was off the mark from beyond the arc. In fact, he was 0-6 from deep.

To put how rare that is in perspective consider that during his one season at Duke, McCain attempted six or more threes in a game 19 times. In none of those games did he go without making at least one 3-pointer.

Getting the start for the 76ers, McCain should be commended for contributing offensively on a day when his outside shot failed him. What's more, his ability to create offense without hitting a ton of 3-pointers might impress his new team as he is going to have to prove that he's got more in his arsenal than long-range shooting.

As for Filipowski, his debut did not go as well. Though his Utah Jazz defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 97-95, the big man was not much of a factor.

Playing only 17 minutes off the bench, Filipowski was 0-4 from the floor with all of his shots coming from 3-point range. He did grab four rebounds and hand out one assist, though.

What is disappointing is that Filipowski's full game wasn't on display. During his college career, he showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and use his athleticism to create offense off of the dribble. That didn't happen on Monday, though.

Perhaps his summer league debut was just an anomaly and he will be more comfortable moving forward. However, it is worrisome that he looked a bit overmatched the first time he faced a step up in competition.

McCain and Filipowski appear to have vastly different tracks to the NBA. As a first-round pick, McCain almost certainly already has a spot guaranteed on Philadelphia's roster.

Meanwhile, Filipowski will have to open eyes this summer if he wants to make Utah's team as a rookie. That's because, as a second-round pick, his contract is not guaranteed making him far easier for Utah to move on from if the organization's decision-makers feel he isn't worthy of a roster spot.

Both Duke alums will be back in action on Tuesday. McCain and Philadelphia will take on Memphis while Filipowski and the Jazz will face the Oklahoma City summer squad. Hopefully, each player can build upon his debut and continue to make strides toward making his NBA dream become a reality.