Notes From Day Two Of Summer League
Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday’s 78-74 loss to the Pacers in summer league play.
- Perry Jones was in good spirits after the game. He sprained his left ankle late in the fourth quarter and had to leave the game to have it heavily wrapped in ice. He’ll be re-evaluated Wednesday morning, but I wouldn’t expect to see him anymore this week. It’s not out of the question, but I can’t see the Thunder risking it, not unless it’s 100 percent by noon tomorrow.
- Aside from that, this was sort of a meh performance by PJ3. After a strong showing in day one, he sort of regressed and showed why so many have questioned his motor. He didn’t quite play with the same energy today, and this was a game where you could barely tell he was on the floor for much of the time. He’ll have to continue to work on that.
- I was extremely impressed with Reggie Jackson today. He was as confident as I’ve ever seen him. He was in charge of the offense while running the high ball screen, and he made many good decisions when he made his move. Jackson’s decision-making in itself is noteworthy. He was decisive today. His passiveness was history. He made quick decisions and lived with the results. Not everything was positive, but he is much better when he makes up his mind and goes.
- Thunder coach Mark Bryant on Jackson: “Reggie is in a learning process. He did much better today. He found people today. He went to the hole strong today. He’s getting better. As the week has gone along, he’s getting more comfortable with the role of playing point guard.”
- Jackson scored 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting and had four assists against three turnovers. That’s one of the best bad stat lines I’ve seen.
- Bryant also said the game is slowing down for Jackson. “It definitely slowed down from yesterday to today,” Bryant said. “It’s going to even slow up tomorrow and the next day. He’s feeling his way through. This is what this summer is all about, learning, feeling your way through and playing in an NBA atmosphere. And he’s getting better.”
- Latavious Williams’ athleticism will wow you. If he ever makes it to the Thunder, he probably won’t even be the most athletic guy on the team. But for a big man, he’s blessed with some explosiveness that really makes him a threat, especially on the glass. He had a game-high nine rebounds today — in just 17 minutes! Who needs DeJuan Blair? More impressively, six of those nine boards came on the offensive end. It helped Williams score 10 points and make an impact.
- Bryant on Williams: “Latavious is a great offensive rebounder. He just has to keep maintaining it. Every time he gets in, go to the offensive glass. He played well coming off the bench. I think if he sticks with it he’s going to be fine. He’s a very active big. He has a knack for getting to the offensive boards, and he finishes pretty good around the rim.”
- If Williams develops his mid-range shot, he could be pretty good.
- A Q&A with Williams.
- One thing Jackson hasn’t yet learned is how not to over-penetrate. He’s suffocating himself on drives to the basket and cutting off his lanes for kickouts. If he takes one less dribble, things will be wide open for him.
- Lazar Hayward continues to play hard and hustle every second he’s on the court. I’m telling you, I’d want that guy on my team. A lot of Thunder heads ask me what he brings to the team. I sort of answer that in my nuggets from day one. But you can’t look at him as a scorer. He’s not that. Look at him as a role player who can hit a shot when the ball is swung his way and supply tough defense in stretches. That’s all this team needs out of him. I’m confident he can do those things if called upon next year.
- Cole Aldrich turned the ball over on the game’s first possession. The writing was on the wall from there. This was not his day. Of course, with yesterday not being his day either that means he hasn’t had a day in Orlando. But I’m withholding all judgment on Aldrich until the regular season. The Thunder believes Aldrich needs to be around his regular teammates. The team believes he’ll blend in better and be able to contribute more of what it is he’s able to do in the regular season setting. Write off Aldrich if you must. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what happens in the fall.
- Not sure what’s happening with Ryan Reid. I expected more out of him. He’s playing hard because that’s what he does. But he’s not rebounding much at all and that has shocked me.
- Hakeem Olajuwon’s people have contacted Scott Brooks‘ people, also known as Scott Brooks, about working with Serge Ibaka on his low-post game. It’ll be interesting to see if that can happen this summer with Ibaka in the Olympics and all.
- Wednesday obviously is the NBA’s version of signing day. Hasheem Thabeet will more than likely ink his new multi-year deal. Whether he’ll play tomorrow, well, nobody has the answer to that. It seems like a true toss up at this point. What the team has to decide is whether Thabeet will benefit more from playing with a bunch of guys he doesn’t know and has never practice with or continuing to workout with coaches away from the summer league team. My take: when can 5-on-5 ever hurt someone’s development? (And don’t point to AAU. That’s a bogus argument and completely beside the point in this case.)
- Andy Rautins has been on the Thunder’s bench the first two days. He’s injured and will not play with the Thunder.
- The 15th spot is still available, and everyone wants to know what the Thunder will do with it. There was a report today that said the Thunder remains interested in Grant Hill. Let’s end all the speculation right here. The Thunder is interested in everybody not named Dwight Howard. OK? Are we clear? Seriously, here’s the situation. The Thunder ideally wants to keep that roster spot open in case the team needs it later for any number of reasons. When the Thunder signs someone, I expect it to be essentially a no-name guy on a non-guaranteed deal. If the Thunder does decide it wants to pay a little bit of money to someone, the team cannot and will not pay a player more than a few million, if that. OKC has the full mid-level exception, or $5 million, to offer. But that’s highly unlikely. Remember, that’s money that, as Sam Presti has said, won’t go back into Clay Bennett’s pockets if unused but toward someone else. Don’t forget about the three someone else’s the Thunder has to worry about at this point. Next, the Thunder can’t sign anyone of substance for more than one year because the contract would spill over into the extensions for Harden and, perhaps, Ibaka. Few players are signing on somewhere for one year. Hill may, but, again, the money has to be right. Then there’s the matter of playing time. How many minutes will Hill get here? He averaged 28 last year in Phoenix and played them at an extremely high level. There’s no way he’s getting 28 next year with the Thunder. Will he settle for less? Why would he when the Lakers have his buddy Steve Nash and a non-existent bench? My money says Hill is a Laker once the Dwight Howard saga concludes. If he signs somewhere before Howard’s soap opera goes away then it won’t be with the Thunder or the Lakers. The only way I see Hill signing in OKC is if he’s still available in mid-season and the Thunder brings him in for the stretch run and the postseason, and that’s only if there is an injury. Anything short of that, Hill is headed for L.A.
- Up next: Thunder vs. Pistons on Wednesday in summer league play
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