NBA Summer League: Day 5 Recap
A true Vegas vacation.
“Digital death,” changed flights, and then overbooked flights severely hindered my ability to cover events over the past few days. The laptop is alive and charging and I’m finally here in Las Vegas, therefore it’s time that we get some coverage up on the NBA Summer League.
There is no better stomping ground in terms of networking at the professional level then here in Las Vegas. It is truly a who’s who of the professional game, offering elite young talent, ambitious assistant coaches, and European teams looking to sweep up the net guy that falls through the NBA cracks. The style of play is frenetic, there are a lot of turnovers, and there is often very little defense played. Just a little disclaimer to know before you lay your eyes on a summer league game.
Here are a few notes from a couple of the games we took in:
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
– The Thunder are long, athletic, and willing to defend. They really have a chance to have a nice nucleus a few years down the road.
– Mustafa Shakur shooting the ball well? Another example of why you can’t believe everything that you see in the Summer League.
– Shaun Livingston really looks like he’s getting it back. He’s moving much better on the defensive end, and still has the same court vision that he always had.
– The Thunder sub out D.J. White and B.J. Mullens, only to bring in two big men just as athletic: Serge Ibaka and Devon Hardin.
– There is a dude dressed in a half red, half royal blue Clippers suit. We’re talking matching blazer and pants. He just screamed “U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly!” at Adam Morrison at the top of his lungs.
– The Lakers’ bigs have a ton of work to do, but Chimelu Elonu has to be the bright spot of the group at the moment.
– Serge Ibaka has tons of talent and potential, but he doesn’t really have an NBA feel for the game yet.
– Alan Anderson making an appearance, fresh off of winning the Croatian League championship with Cibona.
– L.A. fans seem to be behind Shaun Livingston despite the fact that he left the Clippers, but who can blame them. Always outstanding owner Donald Sterling cut him loose after he suffered a nearly career ending knee surgery. What player would want to play for a boss who not only has no sympathy in you, but no faith in you to recover?
– Byron, “don’t call me B.J.”, Mullens with a smooth looking 19 footer, followed by a tip dunk on the next play.
– D.J. White is really developing into a nice pick and pop guy. He always shot the ball well at Indiana, but could be finding his niche in the league right now.
– Adam Morrison is keeping the Lakers in the game with 12 points at halftime. He’s still playing no D and taking shooting less then 50% from the field, though. Big surprise.
– Walking around during halftime of this game was a reminder of why I came to Las Vegas every summer. And that’s not for the basketball.
– Kyle Weaver is playing really solid, doing all of the things that don’t show up in the box score. He’s making the hockey assist, playing great D, and taking pressure off of ball handlers when need be.
– The fact that the Lakers are even in this game now is a testament to their ability to run the triangle offense and the Thunder’s inexperience. Based on talent alone, it should be a 20-point game at this point.
– Morrison still gettting it done with his unorthodox style of play. The fact that there’s no defense here at the summer league must remind him of his days of no defenders in the WCC in college.
– Though the Thunder show spurts of outstanding potential, they also show why the NBA may want to reconsider their age limit. Some of the guys just don’t have the basketball IQ or experience playing at such a high level at this point.
– Harden making tough jumper after tough jumper. Plus he’s running the pick and roll well. Though he doesn’t really fit the mold, the guy just gets it done.
– Alan Anderson is making a case for his return from abroad. He’s playing great defense, is breaking guys down off of the dribble left and right, and really playing within his limits.
– A little summer league hustle play with Harden chasing down a loose ball that was heading out of bounds, only for Byron Mullens to save it again…and almost take out Shaun Livingston’s knee in the process.
– This was the offensive barnburner of the evening, with both teams just surpassing 120 points combined with 5 mines left in the game.
– Anderson continuing to get buckets, hitting a clutch pullup to put Lakers up by 3 with 2 mins to go. Only to be followed by a Mustafa Shakur “and 1″.
– Oklahoma City has no “go to guy” late in the game. Guards are turning the ball over and big men can’t get a rebound. It’s a growing pain, but worth it when you have that much young talent.
– Game goes final, with the Lakers coming out on top 74-71.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. New Orleans Hornets
– Back to the action, watching an impressive matchup of Blake Griffin and a balding Anthony Tolliver.
– Griffin with a gorgeous lob pass to the uber athletic DeAndre Jordan.
– The aforementioned Clippers suit guy going absolutely insane in the crowd, despite the fact that his attire has officially made him the most hated person in the gym.
– Julian Wright almost with a nasty dunk on Eric Gordon that would have brought the house down. Let’s see if Wright can take his game in the right direction this summer.
– The Hornets Summer League team consists of three players that were drafted, giving you an idea of ho wtalented they are.
– European basketball heartthrob and former Miami Ink Guest Mark Salyers making an appearance in the game for the Hornets.
– Salyers only made it three minutes before being posterized by DeAndre Jordan, then pinned against the glass by Jordan.
– Former Utah Valley State star Jaycee Carroll checks in the game and gets two buckets in a hurry.
– The Hornets Earl Calloway sends Mike Taylor to the ground with a devastating behind the back dribble, while Jaycee Carroll has taken 5 shots in less then 3 minutes.
– Kevin Pinkney is so dark that even four feet away from me, I still can’t read his tattoos.
– Mike Taylor is nasty quick going to the rim and sure fire NBA talent, but not an NBA point guard.
– Taylor must have no idea, because he still refuses to give the ball up to Griffin.
– Griffin with another nice pass for DeAndre Jordan dunk in transition.
– Eric Gordon with a nice duck cut in the lane for a quick score. Interesting to see how he posts at 6’3 with that strength.
– 42-35 at the half in a game that is unbearable to watch in terms of pure point guard.
– Collision really attacking the rack early on in the second half.
– Looking more and more like DeAndre Jordan will be ready to make a considerable impact for the Clippers this year, despite how raw he is. He’s getting a much better feel, has the body, and of course, the freakish athleticism.
– Julian Wright coming out of nowhere with a monster tomahawk dunk to bring some life to this crowd.
– Less then a minute later, Wright with almost another posterization.
– Mike Taylor out of control towards the rim again, but got a block call that we don’t agree with. No dunks out of Taylor today, so he’s not bringing anything to the table excitement wise either.
– Marcus Thornton could definitely be a productive scoreer off of the bench in due time. He’s playing super hard and is one of the main reasons that the Hornets took the lead shortly before the end of the third. Darren Collison’s strong play has a lot to do with that as well.
– Eric Gordon with a ridiculously strong take to the rim to bring the Clippers back up 1 to start the 4th.
– Thornton with another big time three-pointer. The guy can flat out put points on the board. His scoring could really be an asset for the Hornets this season.
– Griffin really stepping his play up and having an outstanding game, even though he barely got the rock. His ability to pass the ball turned a lot of heads, and he gave his usually gritty play on the glass and above the rim.
– Thornton with yet another three pointer. Seventeen big points and still counting. Another Thornton jumper. Now the game is really starting to go with three minutes left.
– Anthony Tolliver with a monster block on Mike Taylor that would’ve put the game to 5. Then he missed a monster three.
– Julian Wright, however, makes up for Tolliver, hitting a three of his own.
– Too little, too late for the Hornets. Clippers walk away with the W.
Rodger Bohn is a former director of prep scouting for DraftExpress.