Summer League continued Tuesday in Orlando with three games of varying intrigue.
You do not want to put a whole lot of stock into results or into statistics coming out of these game,s but there is still quite a bit we can learn. And, as I noted earlier this week, lots of storylines to follow. We will be trying to keep track of them as the week goes on with these daily recaps of Summer League action.
Where’s the Thunder?
Last year, the Thunder were one of the favorites to actually win the Orlando Pro Summer League with a roster that featured Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson. Those two players were arguably the two best players who suited up in the entire league. This was even with Daniel Orton — who, believe it or not, was doing a great job rebounding — knocked out of the week with an injury.
Perry Jones III and Lamb made the trip back to Summer League this week. Steven Adams, who cracked the Thunder’s rotation, also made the trip to Orlando this year. Along with first round picks Josh Heustis and Mitch McGary, the Thunder appeared to have a stacked team again.
That is clearly not the case.
The Thunder are 1-3 after a blowout loss to the Pacers on Wednesday. Lamb scored 12 points on 4-for-17 shooting and is shooting just 32.0 percent from the floor. He is obviously playing a more involved role with this team than he would in the regular season. Adams was solid Wednesday with 10 points and eight rebounds. Perry Jones had just five points. Huestis might as well be invisible.
I will have more on the Thunder and Mitch McGary later.
But it is frankly very shocking to see this team struggling to win considering the talent they have on the roster. And the fact they were defending champions makes that even more confusing.
Summer League is not about wins and losses. But they do not hurt. Oklahoma City has some nice players, but they likely fell short of their championship aspirations because some of these young players failed to live up to their potential. Here is where we see some of that potential and set the bar for what they can do.
Highlight of the Day: Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
KCP can’t do it alone
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been the talk of the Summer League so far. He very well might be the best player on the floor at any time when the Pistons are playing and he is definitely the league’s MVP to this point.
Caldwell-Pope had another strong performance with 26 points on 8-for-22 shooting. This time though it was his late-game heroics that made things interesting — ultimately coming up short.
He scored nine points in the final minute to help bring the Pistons back into the game. His game-winning 3-point attempt fell no good at the buzzer, keeping him from his second consecutive day with a game-winning bucket in the dying moments.
Caldwell-Pope has certainly been given the green light to score and shoot. The Pistons have entrusted him with this team to show what he can do. Efficiency is not what is important for him. But he is scoring in a variety of ways and has showed a ton of confidence so far this week. He is definitely the MVP at this point.
Guy You Should Know: Chris Babb, Boston Celtics
Babb was a hound on the defensive end of the floor, helping Boston control Caldwell-Pope for much of the game. This is a guy who could very well have a tough time making the Celtics roster with the addition of Marcus Thornton in a reported three-team deal earlier Wednesday.
Babb added 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting to boot. A good sign for his efforts. His energy was noticeable throughout the game after being a bit player for much of the Summer League.
They happen. They are unavoidable.
Teams are starting to hold players out with little nicks and bruises and the best players in the Summer League will probably start getting their days off to prevent injuries. But they have happened and continue to happen in Orlando.
The latest was to Boston’s Dairis Bertans who was taken off the court on a stretcher as a precaution after getting fouled hard and hitting the basket stanchion. It was a hard hit. Bertans though gave the thumbs up to the crowd at Amway Center as he was carted off. Hopefully he will be fine.
That comes on the heels of Pierre Jackson suffering a major Achilles injury Saturday in Philadelphia’s opener.
Romero Osby has been held out by the Magic because of a sore shoulder on the shoulder he suffered a season-ending injury to last year. And Mason Plumlee was held out today because of a nagging little injury that there is no sense in throwing him back out there for.
Summer League Power Rankings
1. Grizzlies (2-1, 16 points)
2. Pistons (3-1, 19 points)
3. Magic (2-1, 15 points)
4. 76ers (3-1, 22 points)
5. Heat (1-2, 12.5 points)
6. Pacers (2-1, 14 points)
7. Celtics (2-1, 14 points)
8. Nets (1-3, 8 points)
9. Thunder (1-3, 12 points)
10. Rockets (0-3, 3.5 points)
All Summer League Team
G Phil Pressey, Celtics
G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Pistons (MVP)
C Mason Plumlee, Nets
F James Ennis, Heat
F Jarnell Stokes, Grizzlies