The Clippers lost their first summer league game to the Miami Heat by 20 points, 91-71. A loss isn't a huge issue, as the Orlando Summer League championship isn't much to boast about, but the ways that the Clippers lost definitely leaves room for growth from the young squad. Here are some notes on how the notable guys did:
- C.J. Wilcox: The most experienced player in today's game, Wilcox brought his two years of NBA experience and turned it into three bricks in just five minutes of actions. His shots didn't even look close, and he combined them with an assist, a foul, and a turnover. Then, he was forced out of the game with a hand injury and did not return. We don't know the extent of his injury yet, but it's obviously a blow to both the summer league team's spacing as well as Wilcox's chance to build some sort of trade value. I expect that the team will play it safe and hold him out for the rest of the week. Branden Dawson said post-game that Wilcox had broken his hand, but there has been no official word form the team.
- Brice Johnson: The Clippers' first-round pick from last month's draft was incredibly disappointing in his summer league debut. He was incredibly disengaged for much of the game, being pulled early and lectured twice in the first half by Clippers coaches. He finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 3-8 from the field in 24 minutes. He also had 4 fouls and 3 turnovers while posting a team-worst +/- of -22. That means the Clippers won the 16 minutes that he wasn't on the floor by 2, and lost the 24 minutes that he was on the floor by 22, which is... not great. The good news is that one summer league performance doesn't matter, and this is a great chance for Johnson to learn from his struggles and grow a little bit.
- Branden Dawson: Dawson was one of the Clippers' best summer league players last season, averaging a double-double, and today he didn't disappoint either. He came off of the bench behind Brice Johnson but clearly outplayed him, finishing with 14 points, and 7 rebounds in just 16 minutes. The Clippers played with a lackluster energy all day, but Dawson consistently brought the effort defensively and on the glass. The question for his future is the same one we posed last summer: will his effort be good enough against the bigger, stronger, more skilled players in the real NBA? If he added a shot I'd feel a lot better about it--he was just 4-8 from the free throw line today, and has never been a three point shooter.
- Diamond Stone: The early bright spot of the game, Stone faded down the stretch as Miami turned up the pressure and flustered the Clippers guards. After a fine first quarter that saw him hit two mid-range jumpers and score on a nice spin move going to the rim, the Clippers weren't able to run their offense effectively and get him good looks all game. He'll need to step up his rebounding, as finishing with 5 boards in 24 minutes isn't good enough for a center, but overall he had a solid performance. I'm looking forward to seeing him next to an energized Brice Johnson.
- David Michineau: The French point guard definitely had an abysmal stat line in his first game, but it wasn't quite as bad as it looks. He finished with 5 points, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers while shooting just 1-6 from the field. Unfortunately for Michineau and the Clippers' other guards, the Heat trotted out Briante Weber (who has a year's worth of experience guarding NBA talent) and Josh Richardson, an effective young role player for Miami's real team. That duo kept the Clippers from doing anything all game, and while Michineau certainly didn't have a great game, he held his own better than most of LA's guys. I wish that the Clippers had more shooters so that the defense wasn't collapsing so quickly on Michineau and the others when they entered the lane.
Notable Free Agent Players:
- Royce O'Neale: He earned the Clippers' fifth starting spot, but he didn't do much to keep it in this game. He was fine, but he ended the game just 2-7 from deep on some wide-open looks, and he had 4 fouls and 3 turnovers.
- Vince Hunter: The forward from the Reno Big Horns of the NBA D-League impressed in his 17 minutes of action, with slithery drives to the basket and one particularly athletic dunk. He posted 11 points and 5 rebounds, but didn't even attempt a three and shot just 20% from deep last season.
- Wes Washpun: He's a little guy from the University of Northern Iowa known for his defense, and it showed from the moment he checked in as he picked up full-court immediately. He stayed in the game for 25 minutes largely because he brought energy to a lazy team, but he wasn't impressive at all offensively. His shot depends a lot on a very high jump, which makes it very unpredictable, and he really struggled to do anything off the bounce or around the basket due to his size. He was just 1-8 from the field.
- Greg Stiemsma played just 1:43 and didn't record a single stat. TaShawn Thomas and Julian Washburn did not play. In the summer league, we typically see everyone get run over the course of the week, so look out for these guys to get more chances in the next few days.