Clippers - Wizards Summer League - Did We Learn Anything?

What can you say?  It's Summer League.  It's not going to be the prettiest thing.

The Wizards won by 25, 89-64. but that's not nearly the ugliest number in the box score.  The Wizards turned the ball over 23 times - but the Clippers, not to be outdone, somehow managed to turn it over 30 times (in a 40 minute game - that's ridiculous, even for Summer League). The Clippers scored 13 points in the first quarter and 9 points in the fourth.  The Wizards committed 34 fouls, and the Clippers 26.  So here's what you need to know - in this game, there were more each of combined fouls (60) and combined turnovers (53) than there were of combined field goals made (51).  Watching the game (which a lot of you did), you were more than twice as likely to see a foul or a turnover as you were to see a made basket.  NBA Summer League - where slop happens.

And not to make excuses, but I have a feeling this is not going to be a particularly good summer league for the Clippers.  There are interesting prospects on the roster, some of whom have a chance to be good pros.  But Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe are each 19 and have a lot to learn.  Aminu looks a long way from being able to contribute much on offense in an NBA game; Bledsoe has never had to run a team at this level (the last time he played point guard extensively in was in high school).  They both showed signs of why they were first round picks - Bledsoe in particular showed some real flashes of talent.  But remember - they're in Vegas to learn and get better.  They're not there to win basketball games.  There's no stars on this roster - there's no Blake Griffin or Eric Gordon.  No John Wall.  Other than maybe Bledsoe (eventually), these are all complementary players, and truthfully, there's no one out there to complement (or to compliment for that matter).

With the exception of our old pal Nik Caner-Medley, no one on the Clippers could be said to have had a good game, and a few of them had something resembling nightmares.

The worst nightmare belonged to MBFGC, Sofoklis Schortsanitis.  Surprisingly, the one thing I was certain he could do in the NBA (play offense) was the area where he was by far the worst.  The things I was worried about (rebounding, playing defense) he looked pretty good at.  But he was 0 for 3 on offense, with two turnovers.  He lost the handle on a layup, got a dunk blocked, missed another layup, committed an offensive foul, and was completely overwhelmed by the double team.  Maybe it was rust (he hadn't played a game in a while).  Maybe it was nerves.  Maybe it was just a bad game.  We'll see if he gets better.  It's also possible that the speed and length of NBA players (even Summer League NBA players) was something he was not prepared for.  If so, it's not good news.  He can adjust to those things some and get better - but the opponents get a lot faster and a lot longer in the real games.

DeAndre Jordan was simply being asked to do too much, but again, that's what Summer League is for.  He personally had more fouls (5) and turnovers (5) than baskets (3).  He was 3 for 7 from the field and 3 for 10 from the line.  He was active in the middle, and was at least earning trips to the line.  But he allowed himself to be knocked off the ball way too easily.  ESPECIALLY if he's going to continue to shoot 30% from the line, he has GOT to be stronger with the ball and finish plays around the rim.  I lost count of the times in the first half where it seemed like he had a dunk if he could have simply held onto the damn ball.

When I watched Willie Warren shooting the ball in practice on Friday, I noticed his low release point.  Here's what I said at the time:

His release point is too low - he shoots the ball from somewhere near his chin.... With his current stroke and his slight size for the two guard, he's going to have difficulty getting good looks unless he's all alone.  A long defender, anywhere near him, is going to bother that shot if not block it altogether.

His first shot in an NBA game was blocked by Nick Young.  If this guy is supposed to be a shooter, I think his mechanics are going to have to be fixed.  He won't be able to get shots off in the NBA.  He did make some jump shots as the game wore on, but only when he was all alone.  He won't get that alone often.

So if you're looking for indications of who will make the team, and who will play well this season among the guys with guaranteed contracts, it's an inauspicious start for most:

  • NCM showed more range on his jump shot than we remember (3 for 4 on threes), in addition to doing the hustle things (3 offensive rebounds) he did for the SL team last season.  If the shooting is not a mirage, he has a real chance to be on the squad come November.
  • Bledsoe looked the best of the guys under contract, despite his 10 turnovers.  He made some passes that indicated that he has good court vision - and he also made a lot of passes that he simply should not have thrown.  He has a long way to go in terms of running a team.  Oh, and if he can make that Tony Parker tear drop in the lane, he has a chance to be really good.  Unfortunately, he showed absolutely no indication of being able to make it, looking terrible every time he tried it. It's a tough shot, but an absolute necessity for an NBA point guard his size.
  • Big Sofo showed pretty much nothing to make you think he belongs in the NBA.  For now, write this game off and we'll see what he does on Wednesday.
  • DeAndre is long and athletic and active - which are all things we knew, not to mention things he can't help being.  As far as developing the parts of his game that need work - post moves, free throw shooting, passing, etc. - he showed no progress at all.  Interestingly, the coaches called his number a lot - was that just to get him the work, or did they think he'd perform well?  It doesn't make much sense to run plays for a guy over and over if he just isn't there - that can't be good for his confidence.  So you hope that he's shown more in practice, and that he too will play better Wednesday.
  • Who am I forgetting?  Oh yeah, lottery pick Al-Faruoq Aminu.  Know why?  Because he was forgettable.  He had one nice move to the basket which he finished with a flush, and aside from that, he was pretty invisible.  The one time he got the ball on the wing on the break, he lost control going to the basket, and filling the lane was supposed to be the one thing on offense we could count on him being able to do now.  You can see the physical talent - he's long and athletic for sure.  But the ClipperWife, who only watched a few minutes, may have hit the nail on the head in her "I don't care about basketball but this is what I think" sort of way - she said he looked timid.  She was just looking at his face, but that describes his first game pretty perfectly as well.

But it's just Summer League.  We'll get to see more on Wednesday.  By the way - almost 750 comments on the thread - impressive work, citizens.

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