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A Breakdown of the 2019 Clippers Summer League Roster

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Summer League is nearly here, and with it comes my yearly guide to the Clippers’ SL roster.

2018 Summer League - Las Vegas - LA Clippers v Washington Wizards Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Las Vegas Summer League is around the corner, and the Clippers have started their mini-camp before games begin. With the roster released yesterday, here’s a quick breakdown of the players on it, and what we might see from them in Summer League.

Draft picks:

Jerome Robinson – This should be Jerome’s team in Summer League. While he didn’t play a ton of NBA minutes his rookie season, he got a lot of reps in practice as well as some in the G-League, and benefitted from a full year of NBA training and nutrition. As a second-year lottery pick, especially a guard, Jerome is expected to dominate. I’d look for him to get a lot of looks running the pick and roll and creating offense for himself and others, rather than playing off-ball as he did much of last Summer League. Hopefully Jerome stands out – it would not be a great sign if he didn’t.

Mfiondu Kabengele – Most big men struggle in Summer League. Guards, due to their ability to control the ball and get up shots, usually thrive in the semi-organized pickup setting. Mfiondu, however, like Brice Johnson a few years ago, is a rare big man who could show out in SL. Athletic and energetic, with the ability to throw down jams, swat shots, and drain threes, Mfiondu has the type of highlight-generating game that plays well in Vegas. His game is also well-suited to fast-paced play, which is usually where Vegas operates. I think his lack of playmaking and poor decision-making will be on display, but so will his hustle, athleticism, and shooting ability. He will probably have a monster game or two, especially statistically.

Terance Mann – Clippers fans who are excited for the debut of the second round draft pick in a Clippers uniform might need to temper expectations in Summer League. While I like Mann quite a bit, he’s the exact type of player who doesn’t stick out much in Vegas – he plays the right way, does the little things, and thrives in the flow of a competitive game. What Mann does struggle with is shot creation and flashy skills like ballhandling and shooting, which means that he probably won’t score a ton in Summer League. Look for Mann to fill in the gaps and make an occasional highlight reel dunk or defensive play, but mostly have quiet box scores.

Other Clippers affiliates

David Michineau – The man, the myth, the legend makes his 4th consecutive appearance on a Clippers Summer League team. Michineau was just getting in a good rhythm last Summer League when he came down hard on a fastbreak and sprained his ankle. David is also coming off his best professional season, as he hit by far a career high in free throw and three-point shooting percentages while also decreasing his turnover rate. On his fourth team in four seasons, Michineau finally had a breakthrough season aged 24, and might even be ready to come to the NBA. An athletic, attacking guard, Michineau will hopefully be able to control the pace of play in Summer League and set teammates up for some easy looks while also creating offense of his own.

Known Exhibit 10 players:

Amir Coffey – Coffey is the only Clippers’ Summer League player who has been reported to be on an Exhibit 10 deal. Brief refresher: this means that he would get a bonus if he signs with the Agua Caliente Clippers after training camp, and therefore indicates some real level of interest by the Clips. Coffey spent three years at Minnesota, making the All Big 10 team his junior year. A large wing with strong athleticism and solid playmaking, Coffey was one of the better scorers in one of the best conferences in college basketball, and did so on decent efficiency, mostly through relentlessly getting to the line. The downsides with Coffey are simple: he’s an inconsistent (at best) outside shooter, and an anemic rebounder for his size. If he’s able to straighten out his shot, he could have a nice NBA career. If not, he will probably be a fringe player who gets looks on 10 days and in training camps.

Veteran Professionals:

Nigel HayesHayes is, incredibly, one of the most experienced NBA players on the Clippers Summer League team despite logging a mere 122 minutes in the league, all back in the 2017-2018 season (across three teams). Nigel was an extremely decorated Big 10 player (1st Team once, 3rd team twice, 6th man winner), and was a leader and key player on some excellent Wisconsin teams that went far in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, Hayes was also a prime example of a player who missed out on a ton of money by returning to school – he was a lottery pick if he’d come out after his sophomore year in 2015, but went undrafted in 2017 following his senior year. He’s spent most of the last two years in the G-League and overseas, and has performed well in those areas. A good outside shooter with some playmaking ability, Hayes is a skilled big man who could potentially make an NBA roster as a depth player. Keep an eye on him in Vegas.

Derrick Walton – Allow me to stan for a bit. I went to the University of Michigan from 2013-2017, the exact same years that Walton reigned as point guard, so I do have a personal connection to him. Derrick has set several Michigan records, and is a Maize and Blue legend. More importantly, he’s someone I thought could be a solid NBA backup point guard due to his competent floor-generaling, his excellent outside shooting, and tenacious defense. He’s a bit undersized and a merely good, not great passer, but I truly believe he has an NBA future, and would love if it were to be with the Clippers (this seems unlikely, as they already have quite a few guards on their roster, but whatever). Walton should stand out in Vegas, as most competent guards do, and I would love if the Clippers signed him to one of their two-way deals.

Isaac Humphries – I don’t know too much about Humphries. He was a limited bench role at Kentucky for two years before going pro (undrafted) in 2017. He played in NBL (Australia, where he’s a native) in 2017-2018, and won Rookie of the Year. He then played with Erie Bayhawks for 2018-2019, getting a brief cup of coffee with Atlanta at the end of the year. Humphries was not a shooter in college, but has become a decent one, and big men who can shoot are always intriguing.

Cliff Alexander – Alexander, like Hayes, is a cautionary tale of the NCAA to college transition, but in reverse. Alexander, a greatly hyped prospect at Kansas who disappointed his freshman year, came out for the draft anyway, and was not selected in 2015. He played a handful of games for Portland in 2015-2016, but has spent most of the time since in the G-League. A big, athletic forward, Alexander is an excellent rebounder but not much of a shooter or playmaker, which limits his usefulness as a wing in today’s NBA. He’s better suited as a big man, but is a bit undersized at 6’9. There’s some talent there, and he should have some big throwdowns in Vegas, though I’m not expecting him to make much an impact.

Robert Carter – Carter is another undrafted big man from a few years back, but has spent his time overseas rather than in the G-League. He’s put up ok numbers, but nothing special, and I don’t think he will see much time in SL. Really, not much about Carter sticks out in any way, which is fine.

Kaiser Gates – Kaiser is a bit intriguing, a large (6’8) wing who hit 37.5% of his threes last season in the G-League on quite high volume (7.3 attempts per game). He’s a good rebounder and decent (by the numbers) playmaker as well, with a low turnover rate. From what I can tell, Gates is a bit of a “3 and D” prospect, and certainly has the three-point shooting element down. If he can flash some defense or tertiary skills at Summer League, he’s another guy who could make a push for the NBA this season.

Other Rookies:

Tramaine Isabell – Isabell had a fascinating college career, playing at three different schools over four years. He started off at a high-major, playing rotation minutes off the bench in two seasons at Missouri. He took a significant step forward his sophomore season, but apparently wanted more minutes, so he transferred to a low-major at Drexel. There, he dominated, scoring 21 points per game on good efficiency. Then, for his senior season, he transferred again to a mid-major at St. Louis, where he was solid if unexceptional as their starting point guard. All that said, his numbers in a “blah” college conference did not stick out, which does not bode well for his jump to the NBA.

Oshae Brissett – I already wrote about Brissett, but to sum up: he was not very good at Syracuse in his two years there, and I don’t have much confidence in his ability to play at the NBA level.

Ultimately, the Clippers don’t have a very intriguing Summer League team. A few guys (Walton, Hayes, Coffey, and Gates) could be NBA players in some capacity, but they snagged no “high-level” undrafted free agents, probably because there’s no real room on their NBA roster, and those guys all wanted more opportunities elsewhere. There are also no true NBA vets on their roster, unlike previous years with guys such as Hollis Thompson or Kendall Marshall, who are proven at that level. I would be kind of surprised if any of the non-roster guys played for the LA Clippers next year, but a few should wind their way to the G-League.