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

Matthew Mayer and the Houston Rockets headed to NBA 2K24 Summer League finals

Conor Blount
One-year Illini Matthew Mayer on the floor for his NBA 2K24 Summer League debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mayer has contributed to three of Houston’s five wins and will play a big role in the championship game on Monday.

A 4-0 start to the NBA 2K24 Summer League put former Illini Matthew Mayer and the Houston Rockets into the semifinal round against Utah. Despite head coach Ben Sullivan significantly shortening his rotation for the elimination game, Mayer was one of just seven players who received more than three minutes. Similar to the previous two games, Mayer was Houston’s tallest player, which resulted in an interesting dynamic where the score-first guard was asked to provide primary rim protection and rebounding. 

It did not take long for Mayer to make his first appearance off the bench, as with 4:05 remaining, he checked in for Darius Days, Houston’s starting small-ball center. Through six minutes, his squad had totaled just eight points and were trailing by four. That quickly changed, though, as Mayer personally doubled Houston’s score over the course of a 102 second clinic. This stretch featured a step-back three pointer, two points from the charity stripe and a spot up three from the right wing. 

Houston still trailed 19-16 by the end of Mayer’s trademark heater, but the explosion appeared to wake up his teammates, who had a much more successful second quarter. By halftime, the Rockets led 49-37 as a result of better all around offensive execution.

Outside of the first quarter, Mayer did not land another shot, and ultimately finished 2-7 from the field but was finding other ways to shine in his spot minutes as the biggest man on the floor. One such instance saw Mayer in the low post with his man to the left and an opposing player driving to the basket unhindered. Tasked with the decision of leaving his man wide open to guard the more imminent attack, Mayer’s length allowed him to cut off a potential pass to his man while sliding over to secure a block on the driver.

In order to not let his size fool new time viewers, Mayer also showed off his guard-like reflexes for a steal in the final moments of the third quarter.  

    Subscribe to our sports newsletter!

    Not much came to Mayer in terms of counting stats during the fourth quarter, not even so much as taking a shot, but he was on the floor for all but three minutes of an elimination game against NBA talent. When it was all said and done, the Rockets claimed a 115-101 victory and advanced to the NBA 2K24 Summer League finals. 

    In 23 minutes off the bench, Mayer racked up eight points, four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. He had the highest plus-minus of any player, +17, despite his most impressive offensive stretch being just a +1. Solid defense, combined with setting up his teammates from behind the arc culminated in a very solid all around game. 

    Mayer and the Rockets will close out the NBA 2K24 Summer League tomorrow night at 8 p.m. CT against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 


    [email protected]  

    More to Discover
    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.