Unbearably hot weather, never-ending halftime shows involving dancing children, and 7-foot-3 guys named Boban can only mean one thing: Las Vegas Summer League has finally begun. The Clippers defeated the Hawks 90-83 in their first game in Vegas, but the real story was the performance of Reggie Bullock, the Clippers’ first-round pick who had a team-leading 18 points in the victory. Now, for the first time in two months, onto Last Call:
Recap | Box score
Tweet(s) of the Game
With all the gear on his body, I think ATL rookie Dennis Schröder rollerbladed to the game
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) July 12, 2013
Samardo Samuels is screaming for no reason. It’s like watching Summer League Basketball Wives.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 12, 2013
Samardo Sameuls is the Carlos Boozer of summer league.
— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) July 12, 2013
Check Your Messages
What Position Is Reggie Bullock?
It would be safe to say that Reggie Bullock looked comfortable in his first Summer League game with the Clippers. And that might not be such a coincidence.
Bullock, who often played small forward at North Carolina, played more at the 2 than at the 3 Friday afternoon, running off screens and attempting most of his shots in spot-up situations. Only two of Bullock’s made shots (he hit eight of his 15 attempted field goals) came off the dribble. The other six were his bread and butter: catch-and-shoot. Meanwhile, after years of playing the 3, Bullock says that he’s more comfortable playing shooting guard at the NBA level and the rookie says plenty of that comfort has to do with his work on the defensive end.
“I want to get big enough to guard guys like K.D. and LeBron.”
There’s been plenty of speculation over how Bullock might adjust to playing both shooting guard and small forward in the NBA. Can he do that? Can he be as effective as a 2? But offensively, he has a surprising take on his potentially alternating role.
“There’s no difference,” he says. “None.”
- Fred Katz
Samardo Samuels, Battling for a Roster Spot
After going undrafted in 2010, Samardo Samuels showed his worth on the Bulls’ summer league team, eventually earning a three year deal with the Cavaliers. After a disappointing three years in Cleveland, which included three PERs under league average and multiple D-League stints, he’s back in Las Vegas to show what he can do.
He impressed in the Clippers’ debut, going 7-for-11 from the field for 15 points and pulling down nine rebounds. He was also a game high +17, hustling for loose balls, contesting Hawks’ penetrators at the rim, and rim running for putbacks.
He may not be an option for the Clippers, but other teams will surely be watching his performance over the next 10 days. He’s still only 24 and many forget that he was a top-five recruit heading into college and his entry into the NBA draft was viewed as premature by most. Samuels earned his first contract through the summer league and there’s no reason he can’t earn another.
- Jacob Frankel
The Search for an 11th Man
With the Clippers’ offseason moves seemingly cooling off, there remains one prime concern in their rotation: the need for a defensive big man to shore up the frontline.
Brandon Davies, who went undrafted after finishing his senior year at BYU, showed a few encouraging flashes this afternoon. Bubbling under the 6-foot-10 center’s 242-pound frame is an acute awareness of Tyronn Lue’s defensive system. Davies struggled on the offensive end this afternoon, scoring just four points, but he added two weakside blocks and five rebounds on the other end. When I asked him about the adjustment involved in playing NBA defense, he said, “There’s a lot more spacing. You’ve got to work a lot harder so it’s a lot of fun.”
Davies was projected as a late second-round draft pick in this year’s draft, so it came as a relative surprise to many when he was still on the board after Adam Silver announced the final pick. Chances are, Davies will find his way on to a roster by November. If the Clippers are smart, it will be theirs.
- Seerat Sohi
Finding the Player in the Margins
A puzzling aspect to Las Vegas Summer League is what happens in the crevices. The primary appeal is to see all the recent, highly touted draftees, maybe a few sophomores and third year players looking to fine tune some skills. But the bulk of LVSL is built on undrafted rookies and yesteryear’s undrafted rookies, the overseas players.
These are the players diving after balls, trying to set the good screen, calling out defensive coverages from the baseline. And so while a select few show off their athleticism and tantalize their coaches and fanbases with their future potential, potential is largely a non-factor for players trying to catch the eye of a coach, trying to get a camp invite, trying to make a roster.
So here’s the conundrum: with over 220 players participating in Summer League and only 30 first round draftees (not all present), how does one stand out amongst 190-plus glue guys and specialists? How do you win a thankless job that almost every player is competing for?
- Andrew Han