Notes From Day Three Of Summer League
Nuggets from my notebook from the Thunder’s 83-62 win over Detroit in summer league play.
- There were a ton of intriguing matchups throughout this game. Four of the five matchups in the starting lineup were interesting to watch. You had Reggie Jackson versus Brandon Knight, Lazar Hayward versus Kyle Singler, Latavious Williams versus Austin Daye and, of course, Cole Aldrich versus Andre Drummond. It made for as entertaining of a summer league game as Orlando has to offer considering Drummond is the lone lottery pick.
- Daye is one of the most talented guys in Orlando (when he wants to be), and Williams struggled to stay in front of him. It showed a glaring weakness of Williams and one he must get better at to make it to the NBA. That’s perimeter defense. Williams has the potential to be a 3/4 in the NBA, but he must continue to improve his mid-range and perimeter shot and, as evidenced by today’s performance, his man defense away from the basket. Daye drove by Williams with ease at times. He didn’t need a series of moves or screens set for him. One time, Williams bit on Daye’s pump fake but that was about as intricate as it got. You can only hope it was a good lesson for Williams.
- Jackson was even better today than he was yesterday. He was under complete control throughout the game, and, facing his best opponent yet, Jackson completely destroyed him. It was rather shocking, to be honest. I figured it would be a close matchup, but Jackson just outclassed Knight by a wide margin. Jackson ran the offense to near perfection, once again operating the high ball screen with great efficiency. He made all the right decisions out of that set, knifing his way into the lane and getting easy buckets at the rim, pulling up for the free throw line extended jumper, or making on-time, on-target passes to shooters on the perimeter. This was the best I’ve ever seen Jackson. Remember, it’s summer league so don’t jump to conclusions. He still has a long way to go. Let’s see it in the regular season first.
- At halftime, Jackson had 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, zero turnovers and had made 4-of-8 shots. Knight had three points, zero rebounds, one assist, five turnovers and made 1-of-5 shots.
- Jackson finished with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists and two turnovers. Knight finished with 11 points on 5-for-17 shooting with zero rebounds, three assists and five turnovers.
- Jackson’s first turnover came 35 seconds into the third quarter. It was on a drive to the basket. He lowered his shoulder into Kim English before going up for the shot and was called for an offensive foul. Jackson’s only other giveaway came on a drive and kick-out. He drove baseline and tried to fire a pass to Hayward, who wasn’t ready to receive it. The ball trickled out of bounds. Both turnovers you can live with.
- Thunder coach Mark Bryant on Jackson: “I thought Reggie played pretty good today,” Bryant said. “I thought he was under control and that really helped out our team. He was finding people so that really helped out our team.”
- Perry Jones didn’t play today and he is done for the week after spraining his left ankle Tuesday. He averaged 12 points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in two games in Orlando.
- I love Singler’s game but I don’t think he can guard at this level.
- It was a mixed bag for Aldrich today. He had a horrible start but picked it up and finished incredibly well. Drummond was having his way with Aldrich at the start, and Aldrich didn’t do himself any favors by fouling the Pistons’ big man early on and giving him some early confidence. But even while Aldrich was struggling on both ends, he continued to rebound well, which should be encouraging. He got some garbage-time buckets, scoring eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter to go with his team-high seven rebounds.
- Thunder coach Bryant on Cole: “Cole just has to keep playing hard. That’s all we want him to do is just keep playing hard. Don’t worry about scoring. He’s supposed to protect the rim, rebound and be physical. Those are the only things you have to worry about, and I thought he really embraced that and played well today.”
- One thing I liked about Cole’s performance today: he was aggressive at showing himself defensively against the guard in the pick and roll and making his presence felt before rotating back to his man. And he rotates back fairly well, giving enough energy up front to slow up the guard and playing with enough hustle to stop his man from receiving a pass in the lane and a wide open look before he can get back.
- One thing I didn’t like about Cole’s performance today: he wasn’t challenging shots. I have no idea why, but it was baffling. He looked like he didn’t even want to be out there in the first half. He picked it up a lot more in the second half, and had recorded both of his blocks on back-to-back plays. But in the first half, he refused to put his hands up. He ducked into Drummond on one possession instead of contesting as the Pistons’ center attempted a short jumper. On another possession, Aldrich didn’t contest a fall-away jump shot by Vernon Macklin from the other side of the lane. That can’t happen. (It did help Aldrich rebound today, though. Since he was already stationary, he was in position to grab misses. But I still don’t consider that good defense.)
- No Hasheem Thabeet today. He is officially signed, but he didn’t play against the Pistons. I’m told he might play Thursday or Friday, but there is no guarantee he will.
- Also, Thabeet’s deal had originally been reported to be a two-year, fully-guaranteed deal. But the contract is only partially guaranteed and could keep him in Oklahoma City for a total of three seasons.
- Here’s a Q&A with Hayward.
- The Thunder signed former Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson to a non-guaranteed three-year deal today. He’s not a lock to make the roster. But if he works hard and impresses the staff, he could stick and be a cheap addition (about $2.2 million over the life of the deal).
- Thompson, who went undrafted this year, will not compete for the Thunder in summer league. He has a sports hernia, which he is undergoing surgery to repair tomorrow. He will miss about three weeks of basketball activity but will arrive in Oklahoma City next week.
- Up next. Thunder vs. Brooklyn in more summer league play on Thursday at noon.
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