Unlikely Warriors Rookie Turns Heads With Monster Summer League Debut

Gui Santos

Getty Gui Santos contests a shot in Brazil's NBB league.

Gui Santos made a huge impression in his first game with the Golden State Warriors.

The 21-year-old Brazilian player, taken with Golden State’s final selection in the recent NBA Draft at No. 55 overall, is considered a long-term prospect and likely draft-and-stash. The team’s other pair of rookies — first-round pick Patrick Baldwin Jr. and second-rounder Ryan Rollins — are expected to compete for the 15-man roster and split time between Golden State and the G-League in the coming season.

Some now believe Santos could eventually join them. Santos’ big debut caught major attention and has some speculating whether he could grow beyond his initial draft projection.

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Santos Comes Up Huge

Though the Warriors lost 86-68 to the Sacramento Kings in the July 2 contest, Santos was a bright spot as he scored team-highs with 23 points, six rebounds and three steals. The performance was particularly impressive to coach Seth Cooper, who noted that the team hasn’t had much time to practice together and that the team’s other top prospects were absent. Baldwin and Rollins did not suit up in Saturday’s game, and neither did 2021 draft picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

As Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area noted, Santos showcased a strong set of skills including a polished Eurostep move. He shot 7-of-12 from the field, making 1-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line.

Santos admitted after the game that he was a bit nervous playing close to 6,000 miles from his home in Brazil.

“Before the game, I was nervous because it’s a different game here,” Santos said. “I’m playing outside of my country and my family is not here. But when I started to play, I gained confidence. Catching the ball and making the plays, I started to feel better.”

Plans for Santos Could Change

The strong debut led to speculation that Santos may not be such a long shot to eventually make the Warriors’ roster. C.J. Holmes of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that he has now become a player to watch in Summer League.

Santos knew the stakes of Saturday’s game. Though he was a closely followed draft prospect — initially declaring for the draft in 2021 before pulling back out — his career in Brazil’s NBB hadn’t put him on the national radar in the United States. The Summer League debut was the first chance to do that, and he seized it.

“I did well today,” he said. “In my mind, I was like, ‘I need to do well, show what I can do.’ Because in Brazil, we don’t have a lot of guys coming down to see Brazilian players, so I need to introduce myself here first. That’s what I used to push me up during the game.”

As Poole noted, Santos still has a long journey to make the Warriors’ roster, but got off to a very good start.

“Though Santos likely will not be on the Warriors’ roster next season – he’s a year or two away from the NBA – he was by far their best player in a game much more about individual evaluations than the story told by the scoreboard,” Poole wrote.

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