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Clippers, Led by Thornwell and Gilgeous-Alexander, Top Kings 88-78

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The Clippers’ top prospects all seemed to take a step forward in game 2.

2018 NBA Summer League - Las Vegas - Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

David Michineau is back, baby.

The Sacramento Kings set the tone early in tonight’s game: they were bigger and stronger, and second-year forward Justin Jackson was stellar early in the game, keeping the Clippers on their heels defensively. But as the game wore on, the Clippers’ young roster grew into the game, handing the physicality and slowing Jackson down. Led primarily by players who will be on LAC’s roster next season, the Summer Clippers orchestrated a comeback to get the game close at the end of the third quarter, and then ran away with the game in the fourth. They won the period 22-12, reflecting their 88-78 margin of victory.

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: The Clippers’ prize point guard had a much better stat line tonight (21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals on 8-16 shooting), but while his talents are obviously on display, I’m still looking for a little more from him. His decision-making in these games is obviously impacted by the players who are around him, but I want to see more of his passing and vision on display. We’ve gotten glimpses of it, but I’d like to see a little more in the coming days. His shot selection, while better tonight, could still use a little work—coach Casey Hill said after the game that “there’s a steak in there, but we have to trim a little fat.” Still, it’s hard to complain about what the 19-year-old guard is showing in terms of poise and leadership.
  • Sindarius Thornwell: It’s always hard to extrapolate meaningful player projections from summer league, but it’s safe to say that players with NBA experience should be a step above the rest—they’re going down a level in competition to play in Summer League. Sindarius still has work to do on his game, but he’s clearly a man among boys here in Las Vegas. While it’s hard to gauge how good he actually is because a lot of what he’s doing won’t translate against actual NBA talent, he’s separating himself from the rest of the fringe guys here, which can only be a good thing. One real note, though: his jumper still isn’t perfect, but his release is notably quicker and smoother than it was last season. He knows that he has to consistently make corner threes to stay on the floor, he’s dedicated himself to improving his shot, and he said tonight that his confidence is at an all-time high.
  • Jawun Evans: I was really disappointed in Jawun’s first game in Vegas, and the start of tonight’s game had me worried. But as the game wore on, he seemed to find himself. The slow start may be a result of rust (he hasn’t played extended minutes since January due to injury), but it’s good to see him get going. He hasn’t separated himself from the pack in the way that Sindarius has, but that’s okay for right now. Jawun’s defense was a big part of what turned this game for the Clippers, and he hit a big corner three in the fourth to keep the ball rolling on the team’s impressive run.
  • David Michineau: Okay, I might be going a little off the rails here, but I was happy to see David get some run tonight after not playing in the first game, and I was especially thrilled to see him playing so well. He didn’t do anything amazing, but he was on the floor and a factor during the Clippers’ big fourth-quarter run, scoring twice on a couple of aggressive drives and adding two assists and a steal. He’s not NBA-ready (and the Clippers certainly don’t have room for another guard), and his situation in France would make a G-League stint a poor financial decision—but it’s good to see a guy who is in the Clippers’ system long-term making progression towards hopefully someday being NBA-caliber. David Michineau is a summer league legend and we must protect him.