Over the course of Friday’s Las Vegas Summer League games, I’m not sure I looked at the scores at any point other than the last few possessions of the Cavs/Bucks showdown. Sure, I examined the scoreboard from time to time, but that was much more to see the clock or occasionally check on a player’s point total. The score of the game itself was basically immaterial.
Coaches often use the phrase “process over results” as a way of emphasizing the long view, that what’s expedient for winning today’s game might not be the best thing for winning multiple games over a season. If there was the platonic ideal of this emphasis on process, it would be summer league. The games literally do not count. At all. There are no “results” to misguidedly weigh.
What does it matter that Tim Hardaway Jr. put up big scoring numbers? He wasn’t guarded by a single player likely to see NBA rotation minutes any time soon, so he perhaps should dominate. But “dominate” isn’t simply shooting the ball every time he touched it. In a “real” game, that’s just not going to work. Of course dominating inferior competition is a better look than struggling against it as did Shane Larkin Friday, or as did Anthony Bennett for much of his outing.
But things that might translate were such nuances as Matthew Dellavedova’s ability to keep his dribble alive yet not go down a blind alley, drawing defensive attention before accurate skip passes across the court. It was Andrew Wiggins’ absolutely terrifying ability to attack the offensive glass from the weakside wing. Bernard James was able to beat his man up and down the court repeatedly while constantly winning physical battles for position underneath the rim. And it was Bruno Caboclo, the Brazilian mystery kid, showcasing one of the prettier jumpers on display.
While it’s hard to say how well or how often, those were things that could work in the NBA, and those are the things which make watching summer league fascinating.
- Seth Partnow
The Kings’ Mess
On a day that The King himself went back home, overshadowing all other news, the Sacramento Kings let their best player walk away. The puzzling series of moves after Vivek Ranadive continued with the curious Isaiah Thomas departure.
As for the on-court adventures, the Kings looked more discombobulated than your usual pickup Summer League game. Ben McLemore’s shot is still shaky despite the gunner’s mentality. Couple his lack of touch with Ray McCallum’s score-first mentality, it’s a free-for-all for everyone involved. And the new rookie that’s supposedly to instill hope into everything else? Well, Nik Stauskas actually looked fine, exhibiting an off-the-ball game and the gorgeous shot so adored by everyone. But beside that and everything else – Summer Leagues games are as meaningless as celery is to a red-blooded American – the Sacramento Kings looked just spiffy.
Did I mention they signed Darren Collison to a three-year deal? I’m sure that’ll work out.
- Andy Liu
Too Tall for Comfort
From the Clippers’ perspective, JaJuan Johnson and Kenny Kadji, both on Milwaukee’s roster, could be more interesting. Johnson was a late first-round pick, but couldn’t stick in the association. He’s played for a few teams in Europe and the D-League. Friday, he did a nice job playing off Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, making himself available and finishing when he got the chance. He did a good job protecting the rim in Europe, which makes him quite a change from Glen Davis and Hedi Turkoglu. Kadji could, in theory, also be a nice end-of-the-bench guy for the Clips. He played on a good defensive college team at Miami, so he’s used to working within a system, and he should be able to make at least mid-range jumpers in the NBA. In practice, he didn’t do much in his eight minutes tonight.
- J. D. Evans.