The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Podziemski, Hill and Smith combine for just two baskets in day six of the NBA 2K24 Summer League

Conor Blount
Malcolm Hill, member of Illinois men’s basketball from 2013-2017, preparing to take a shot from the corner against the Indiana Pacers. After an efficient pair of games to open the NBA 2K24 Summer League, Hill contributed to a night that saw three former Illini total two made baskets.

Day five of the NBA 2K24 Summer League saw two of the best performances from any former Illini at the event. Matthew Mayer and the Houston Rockets moved past the Oklahoma City Thunder thanks to an efficient 19 point double-double while a team-high 16 points from Tevian Jones secured New Orleans’ second win of the event. 

Just 24 hours later, though, Illinois fans were much less fortunate. Brandin Podziemski and Mark Smith, both just single year Illini who finished their collegiate careers elsewhere, took the floor at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion with substantial minutes on the horizon. On the other side of the complex, four-year Illini Malcolm Hill took the floor at Thomas and Mack Center’s mainstage. 

Recently selected 19th overall by the Golden State Warriors, Podziemski has struggled from the field to open Summer League. In the two games prior to his meeting with the Dallas Mavericks he had shot just 1/10 and 3/15 overall. Though, his second performance had a lot to like elsewhere as he finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double and recorded just two turnovers (10/9/10).

Unfortunately for the Wisconsin native, it was clear from his first stretch on the floor that the shooting woes were not going away just yet. Podziemski exited the game after eight and a half minutes with zero makes on four attempts. Thankfully though, his newfound playmaking chops had continued to shine for two assists during that same time.

The second quarter was much of the same, with Podziemski picking up another assist but only getting a single point off a technical free throw. Sitting at 0/5 with just one point, Podziemski’s squad trailed 42-36 entering the break.

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    Dallas seemed poised to jump ahead further coming out of halftime, picking up easy points and growing their lead to double digits less than three minutes in. But despite not being able to hit a shot himself, Podziemski’s ability to find his teammates helped the Warriors claw back and trail by just a single possession when he checked out for a break late in the third. 

    All of Golden State’s progress appeared to be for naught to begin the fourth quarter, as Dallas exploded to take its biggest lead of the game after just a couple minutes. Once again having to battle from behind, Podziemski’s consistent right decisions with the ball plus his lone basket of the game did the trick. In the final 90 seconds, Podziemski converted a driving layup after friendly flagrant free throws to combine for a four-point possession before assisting on Golden State’s game tying three-pointer. 

    During the seven-point target score overtime period, Podziemski did not record any positive counting stats. Even more heartbreaking for Illinois fans, with the game on the line and the next basket determining the winner, Podziemski had his shot blocked which led to a game-winning put-back dunk for Dallas on the other end. 

    Podziemski finished the game with three points, five rebounds and a team-high seven assists.

    Next up was Hill, who had a rough night in the Orlando Magic’s last outing. Through 13 minutes, the five-year Summer League veteran totaled five points which would have been completely acceptable had it not taken seven shots to get there.

    This time around, Hill entered the game to start the second quarter and his first two possessions unfortunately ended with a missed shot and a turnover. It took a couple minutes for Hill to get involved again, ultimately drawing a shooting foul and splitting his pair of free throws. He repeated this process after grabbing an offensive rebound, sinking his second and third points of the night. Those points contributed to a halftime score knotted at 41 a piece, a nice bit of foreshadowing for the remaining 20 minutes of regulation.

    Hill took a seat for the entire third quarter, returning only for the beginning of the final 10 minutes of play while leading 64-53. Despite putting together a couple of hustle plays that included another offensive rebound and subsequent put-back layup, Hill was on the floor for the worst four minutes imaginable. By the time he was subbed out, Orlando’s lead had all but vanished (66-64). Eventually the had score flipped so severely that a buzzer-beating layup was required to give the Magic a chance in overtime.

    Unfortunately it was not meant to be for Hill and the Magic, who failed to reach the 82 point target score first (seven points added to regulation tie). Finishing with a final score of 82-80 that bumped Orlando down to 0-3, Hill personally had five points and five rebounds in 12 minutes.

    The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz took the floor just two hours later, with Smith holding a much smaller role than Podziemski from the start.

    Playing just 10 total minutes, the Decatur native did not shy away from taking shots but was unfortunately not able to cash in a single one. Smith checked in with 4:34 remaining in the first quarter and quickly put up two legitimate shot attempts with a third being a prayer at the buzzer. 

    He tried one last time early in the second quarter, but was blocked on a driving layup and subbed out shortly after. The second half saw even more limited action for Smith, in which he did not record a single counting stat. 

    All three Illini had rough individual days at the NBA 2K24 Summer League, on top of their teams dropping to 0-3 as a result. If one were to look on the positive side, Podziemski certainly made an impact through avenues other than scoring, Hill excelled at everything but three-point shooting and Smith has hardly been given enough minutes to iron out a rhythm to build on. 

    The Warriors and Magic will be back in action on day seven against the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers respectively whereas the Nuggets will play next on Friday against the Miami Heat. 


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    About the Contributor
    Conor Blount, Assistant Sports Editor
    My name is Conor Blount. I’m a junior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. I joined The Daily Illini in the summer of 2022 as a beat writer for the sports section and am now one of three assistant sports editors. My first beat was women’s tennis before I moved to women’s basketball in the spring. I also had the pleasure of covering several former Illini at the 2023 NFL draft and NBA summer league. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the email below.