2014 Las Vegas Summer League: What to watch on Day 5
Taking a look at the match-ups from Las Vegas Summer League for Tuesday, July 15 and whom you should pay attention to.
We had big blowout victories by the New York Knicks over the Charlotte Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks over the Toronto Raptors in Monday's Las Vegas Summer League action. We also had the Sacramento Kings eek out a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans while the Los Angeles Lakers managed to win the game at the last possible second to end the Golden State Warriors ' epic summer winning streak. The Warriors had a 16-game winning streak going in summer league prior to Jordan Clarkson's tip-in at the buzzer.
What madness will happen today? Let's take a look at the match-ups and story lines for Day 5 of the summer session:
4 p.m. ET - Portland Trail Blazers vs. Atlanta Hawks
The duo of C.J. McCollum and Thomas Robinson have looked pretty active so far in summer league. They're the two leading scorers for this Blazers team and show a good presence with each other on the court. Robinson has been the energy guy we've seen from his best moments with the regular season Blazers, and he's so physically imposing in the summer environment that he's able to just move people out of his way effortlessly to get any task done. McCollum has been inconsistent with his outside shot, but his game inside the 3-point line has produced quite nicely. You'd like to see him create for others a bit more, but as long as he's building confidence in his game, you'll live with the holes here and there.
In the sudden death loss to the D-League squad, Dennis Schroeder was extremely aggressive. He had 30 points, eight turnovers, and four assists. These are the types of games you want him to have in the summer. Running the point in the NBA is about understanding moments to be assertive and learning on the job just when to take chances. It's why a young point guard turning the ball over a lot early in his career can be a good thing. They have to learn what works and what doesn't. Schroeder was great at this in the last game. He needs to keep being assertive because his physical attributes make him very difficult to stay with on a possession by possession basis.
4:30 p.m. ET - Chicago Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Doug McDermott went off in his second summer league game and looked so comfortable on offense. In the first game of the summer session, it looked like he didn't have a rhythm for the game and it hurt his ability to get the necessary space on offense to have an impact. In his second game, he dropped 31 points because he was using quickness to get around screens and find the holes in the defense. His shot was so pure and his work in the post was fantastic. He used strength and footwork to create space and just cooked all game. It doesn't mean he's solved the NBA game, but at least any worry Bulls fans were starting to have can be put on hold while they enjoy the performance.
The Alexey Shved reclamation project is an interesting one. He's on the Wolves' summer roster after two years in the NBA. In the first half of his rookie season, Shved looked like a potential spark off the bench. After the league figured him out with a solid scouting report, Shved disappeared on the court. He didn't use his athleticism or his height when handling the ball. He just settled for jumpers and missed an unacceptable amount of those shots. He's clearly working on that aggressiveness through the first two games of the summer, but whether or not that translates to the regular season is hard to know. They're running him at the point guard position in Vegas, a backup position that could be wide open if J.J. Barea gets dealt after the impending Kevin Love trade.
6 p.m. ET - Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets
After losing Darren Collison in free agency, the Clippers turned to Jordan Farmar to stay in Los Angeles as their backup point guard. But depth at the position doesn't really exist for the Clippers, which makes the play of Lorenzo Brown important. Brown was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft but couldn't make the Wolves' roster. He ended up in Philadelphia on a horrendous Sixers' team. Through two games in Vegas, Brown has been arguably the best player on the Clippers' squad. The franchise needs a third point guard for depth and Brown's consistency on his 3-point shot and attacking the defense looks pretty valuable. His jumper looks smoother than it did a year ago, and it's clear the work he's been putting in is paying off for now. Shouldn't have a problem getting a training camp invite.
Speaking of point guards, through two games of summer league Isaiah Canaan has been disappointing to watch. The smooth-shooting point guard is hitting under 35 percent on his field goals and under 30 percent on his threes. He's not really breaking through to contribute elsewhere either. Canaan shouldn't have any problem finding space for a jumper that has looked lethal since he was at Murray State. Summer league can be a little chaotic for guards but he's too good to look this mediocre in Vegas.
6:30 p.m. ET - Miami Heat vs. Washington Wizards
Shabazz Napier had a tough match-up against both Lorenzo Brown and Delonte West in his last game, and he struggled a lot. He made just 2-of-8 from the field and had one assist. One of his buckets was a tough And-1 opportunity late in a tight game, but ultimately he couldn't generate any offense consistently. With Mario Chalmers back and Norris Cole still on the roster, Napier's potential impact as a rookie and in his first couple years seems highly unlikely. That makes these summer games even more important for him to find ways to be successful and build confidence. The poor showing against the Clippers was not that at all.
Glen Rice Jr. is destroying opposing defenders right now. He's scored 44 points in his two games and the majority of it is coming from the perimeter. The Wizards are doing a great job of not just having him isolate to score against guys who may not be in the NBA next season, but they're having him running off screens and being in game situations he is likely to experience if he cracks the rotation. They're creating a consistent scoring opportunity environment for Rice and he's cooking in the process. He's hit 45 percent of his shots and 40 percent from 3-point range.
8 p.m. ET - Philadelphia 76ers vs. Phoenix Suns
Nerlens Noel may have had seven fouls in 28 minutes of action in his Las Vegas debut, but his aggressive play on defense showed he's handsy in a very good way. He blocked four shots against the Cleveland Cavaliers , and altered countless others. He did a great job of cutting off angles in the post and inside, often causing deflections. And while it's nice to see him looking comfortable on offense, the defense is what you want to focus on with him. His instincts seem almost too perfect for a guy heading into his rookie season. His legs are so skinny, so he'll need to add mass and strength to help avoid injuries in the future. But his defense is going to put him in the mix for making a lot of plays right away.
The Suns' rookies look good so far but they're showing holes in their games they'll certainly need to work on if they want to crack Jeff Hornacek's rotation. Tyler Ennis has had only five assists in 48 minutes of action. While he needs teammates to hit shots when he delivers the ball, he also needs to use his quickness and strength to set up more opportunities against a scrambling defense. For T.J. Warren, he's made 11-of-17 shots in two games but he hasn't attempted a single 3-point shot. Warren is a good scorer inside the arc, but to truly maximize his potential, he'll have to figure out how to shoot it from distance. This is the perfect time for him to work on it.
8:30 p.m. ET - Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets
In his first game of the summer, Rodney Hood was drawing groans from the crowd. Dante Exum and Trey Burke were creating open shots for him and he was clanking almost all of them. He made 1-of-10 from 3-point range in that first game and just didn't have any sort of shooting rhythm. In the second game, he reminded Jazz fans not to worry about his jumper. He went 7-of-10 from 3-point range and led the way with 29 points. He hit open shots and he hit shots with defenders in his face. It was a shooting display that caused the crowd to go crazy as he racked up consecutive makes throughout much of the first three quarters.
While Doug McDermott was going off in a Chicago Bulls' offensive explosion, Quincy Miller was doing the best he could for keeping the Nuggets in it. He had 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting to go with eight rebounds and three assists. Miller looks so comfortable shooting the basketball and creating off the dribble. It truly looks like the game has slowed down mentally for him. You can say that's just because it's summer league, but we saw him last summer and he didn't show any comfort with the ball, even when he played well. It'll be tough to crack the rotation in Denver, but he's starting to show signs of things coming together for an incredibly talented young player.
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