Pro Hoop Hogs report: 2023-24 awards including MVP, First Team, Rookie of the Year, plus ’24 NBA Summer League tips off

By Kevin McPherson
on 2024-07-06 16:17 PM

By Kevin McPherson

LITTLE ROCK — With the 2023-24 season featuring 12 NBA Hogs having recently concluded as yet another former Arkansas star player collected an NBA championship ring, it’s time to hand out our Pro Hoop Hogs awards while also turning the page to ’24-25 as the annual multi-week NBA Summer League tips off this weekend.

2023-24 Pro Hoop Hogs Awards

Co-MVPs: Big men Daniel Gafford (6-10 center, Dallas Mavericks, native of El Dorado) and Bobby Portis (6-10 forward / center, Milwaukee Bucks, native of Little Rock)

- Gafford in his fifth NBA season averaged career-highs in scoring (11.0 per game), rebounds (7.6), blocks (2.1), and assists (1.6) while shooting 72.5% from the field (led the NBA) in the regular season — he played 45 games (all starts) with the Washington Wizards before being traded to Dallas for the the final 29 games (21 starts), helping the Mavericks to the Western Conference Playoffs as the 5-seed while playing a key role as a starter as the team advanced to the NBA Finals (a 4-1 series loss to the Boston Celtics).

- Portis in his ninth NBA season played in all 82 regular-season games to earn his second consecutive NBA Sixth Man of the Year finalist berth, finishing third in the voting after averaging 13.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 24.5 minutes while shooting 50.8% from the field, including 40.7% from 3, and 79.0% from the free throw line. He helped the Bucks make the Eastern Conference Playoffs and he averaged a double-double — 16.5 points and 11.3 rebounds — in a 4-2 first-round series loss to the Indiana Pacers.

All PHH First Team: Portis; Gafford, Isaiah Joe (6-4 guard, Oklahoma City Thunder, native of Fort Smith, see stats below); Moses Moody (6-5 guard, Golden State Warriors, native of Little Rock, career-highs of 8.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 66 games with 9 starts, 46.2% FGs, 36.0% 3FGs, 78.5% FTs); Patrick Beverley (6-1 guard, Milwaukee Bucks/Philadelphia 76ers, native of Chicago, 6.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists); Jaylin Williams (6-9 forward / center, Oklahoma City Thunder, 4.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 41.7% FGs, 36.8% 3FGs, 80.5% FTs, 1 start in 69 games)

Top Gun: In his fourth NBA season, Isaiah Joe ranked among the Top 20 three-point shooters in the league in terms of efficiency (147-of-353 for 41.6% to rank 18th best), including his masterful 7-of-7 effort from distance as part of his 23-point game in a road win over Golden State and the Splash Brothers. Joe averaged 8.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 45.8% FGs, 41.6% 3FGs, 86.5% FTs in the regular season. He started the last two games of the Thunder’s 4-2 Western Conference Playoffs semifinals series loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Joe recently signed a lucrative multi-year contract with OKC (details included here in my Hogville article published on July 1:

Co-Rookies of the Year: 2023 NBA Draft first-rounders Anthony Black (6-7 guard, Orlando Magic, native of Duncanville, TX) and Nick Smith, Jr. (6-4 guard, Charlotte Hornets, native of Jacksonville)

-Black started nearly half of the games he played in (33 of 69) in his first NBA season and averaged 4.6 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 16.9 minutes per game while shooting 46.6% from the field, including 37-of-94 from 3 for 39.4%, and 61.3% from the free throw line. He scored in double-figures seven times, including a career-high 23 points to go with 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and 1 assist in a 127-119 road win over the Washington Wizards on Dec. 26, 2023.

-Smith played in 51 games in his NBA rookie season, averaging 5.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 14.3 minutes per game while shooting 63-of-146 from 3 (43.2% was tops among all NBA rookies in ’23-24, and per he’s one of only two 19-year-old or younger players in the history of the game to shoot at least 43.0% from 3 on 125-plus attempts in a single season). Smith — he made 13-of-15 free throws on the season for 86.7% — scored in double-figures 10 times, including his career-high 24 points (including 6-of-11 three-point shooting) to go with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in Charlotte’s 120-110 road win in the regular-season finale (April 14) against the playoff-bound Cleveland Cavaliers.

NBA Finals champion: In his first NBA season, Jordan Walsh (6-6 guard, Boston Celtics, native of Dallas, TX) became the seventh Pro Hog to win an NBA title (and third in the last four years) as he and Pro Hog Moses Moody represent the sixth (Moody in ’21-22) and seventh (Walsh in ’23-24) youngest players all-time to appear in an NBA Finals series. Walsh was part of the Boston Celtics’ 15-player active roster in the Playoffs and made one appearance in the NBA Finals, grabbed 1 rebound in 5 minutes with a boxscore plus-7 in Game 4 of the C’s 4-1 title-series win against the Dallas Mavericks. Walsh also appeared in two other Playoff games against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals as he combined to contribute 2 points and 1 rebound in a collective 6 minutes. In the regular-season, Walsh appeared in 9 games (with 1 start) and averaged 1.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 9.2 minutes. Walsh helped the Main Celtics to the NBA G-League championship series as he averaged 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.

2024-25 Pro Hogs in NBA Summer League

-First day of 2024 NBA Summer League (California Classic, Saturday, July 6) is jam-packed with Pro Hogs … Mason Jones (?) in Kings 2-v-Lakers (3:30 p.m. CT, ESPN) … Jimmy Whitt, Jr. in Warriors-v-Heat (5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN, Miami’s summer league roster includes in-state rookies Kel’el Ware and Bryson Warren) … Nick Smith, Jr. in Hornets-Spurs (7:30 p.m. CT, NBA-TV) … Mason Jones (?) in Kings 1-v-China China (9:30 p.m. CT, NBA-TV).

-More Pro Hogs expected to compete in NBA Summer league … Anthony Black (Magic), Jordan Walsh (Celtics), Ricky Council IV (Sixers), Stanley Umude (2-way contract, Milwaukee Bucks).

-Complete 2024 Summer League events/dates (all games to be televised by ESPN/2/U and/or NBA-TV) … California Classic SL (July 6-10), Salt Lake City SL (July 8-10), Las Vegas SL (July 12-22).

(Last updated: 2024-07-06 16:17 PM)