Sports

Alaska-grown basketball players JT Thor and Daishen Nix head to NBA’s Summer League

Anchorage-grown basketball players JT Thor and Daishen Nix are both headed to the NBA’s Summer League, which tips off a 10-day run in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Thor, an 18-year-old who was drafted in the second round of last week’s NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, on Friday signed a contract with Charlotte and was added to the team’s Summer League roster.

Nix, a 19-year-old who is an undrafted free agent, signed a Summer League contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. He remains unsigned for the 2021-22 season.

[Hornets pick JT Thor in 2nd round of NBA draft and Daishen Nix goes undrafted]

Each team plays five games in Las Vegas, and the Hornets and 76ers are not scheduled to play each other in their first four games. Teams won’t know who they play in their fifth game until late in the competition.

A third player with an Alaska connection will also be in Las Vegas.

Justinian Jessup, a 6-7 guard who lived in Nome from 2009-11 while he was in middle school, is on Golden State’s roster. He was the Warriors’ 51st pick in the 2020 NBA draft and last week made his debut for Golden State at the California Classic, a two-day NBA summer showcase.

Thor, a 6-foot-10 power forward, played a season of JV basketball at West High before leaving Anchorage to pursue basketball at a prep academy. He developed into a top college prospect and played one season at Auburn University before deciding to enter the draft. The Hornets picked him in the second round.

HIs first practice with his new team was Friday, and during a post-practice interview, Charlotte assistant coach Dutch Gaitley said Thor would play with the team in the Summer League.

“He’s gonna play for us, and we threw a lot at him today,” Gaitley said. He has a lot to learn, the coach said, but “he is very physically gifted. Strong shoulders, big chest and long arms, and he’s very cut too. His athleticism is something that’s gonna show.”

Nix, a 6-5 point guard, left Anchorage after middle school and spent his high school years in Las Vegas. He signed a letter of intent with UCLA but decided to bypass college to play in the NBA’s G League; he was a projected second-round draft pick but was not among the 60 players drafted.

He isn’t expected to stay with the 76ers long-term, but he could catch the attention of other teams while playing in the Summer League, especially if he shoots well.

Nix’s playmaking and passing ability is stellar, but there are concerns about his shooting touch is suspect — in 15 G League games, he shot 38.4% from the field and 17.6% from 3-point range.

Thor and the Hornets play their first Summer League game Sunday. Nix and the 76ers open play Monday.

NBA Summer League (all times ADT)

Philadelphia 76ers

Monday, noon — Dallas Mavericks (NBA TV)

Thursday, 5 p.m. — Atlanta Hawks (ESPN2)

Saturday, Aug. 14, 1 p.m. — Boston Celtics (NBA TV)

Sunday, Aug. 15, 3 p.m. — Minnesota Timberwolves (ESPN2)

Charlotte Hornets

Sunday, 2 p.m. — Portland Trailblazers (NBA TV)

Monday, 2 p.m. — Sacramento Kings (NBA TV)

Thursday, 11 a.m. — San Antonio Spurs (ESPNews/ESPNU)

Saturday, August 14, 3 p.m. — Toronto Raptors (NBA TV)

Golden State Warriors

Monday, 4 p.m. -- Orlando Magic (NBA TV)

Wednesday, 4 p.m. -- Toronto Raptors (ESPN2)

Friday, 3 p.m. -- Oklahoma City Thunder (ESPN2)

Sunday, Aug. 15, 5 p.m. -- New Orleans Pelicans (ESPN2)

This story was updated with information about Justinian Jessup and the Golden State Warriors.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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