The Briefest of Summaries (this is Summer League, after all)
The Clippers started the game awfully, making only 2 of their first 22 shots, and looking completely out of sorts on both ends. In the second quarter, they made a push behind their bench, and eventually gained a lead, with Kabengele scoring 10 points and playing impressively. However, the Grizzlies retook the lead in the 3rd quarter on the strength of an awe-inspiring performance from Brandon Clarke, and never let go, cruising to an 87-75 win.
- Terance Mann is good at basketball: Mann has been by far the Clippers’ best player through two games of Summer League. He brought down 14 rebounds today in 28 minutes, dished out 4 assists, and scored 6 points (3-7 shooting), but it was his pace and control that was most impressive, as he mostly ran the Clippers’ offense with aplomb. He makes a few wild passes and his handle is more functional than exceptional, but he has above-average passing, dribbling, and overall playmaking skills for a 6’7 wing. If his teammates were better at hitting shots, he probably would have had double digit assists in this one. Mann does need to be more aggressive scoring the basketball, and he still hasn’t got a three to drop, but he brings a bit of everything to the table, and should probably be on the Clippers’ 15 man roster. I think he’s played his way out of a two-way deal, and honestly, if he keeps this up, could challenge for at least a situational role in the rotation like Sindarius Thornwell had last year.
- Mfiondu Kabengele shows extreme strengths and weaknesses: Fi is a fascinating prospect because what he does well and poorly are so stark. For a 6’10 big man, he’s a fantastic outside shooter, with a clean, efficient, easy stroke that actually has good results. He will be a floor spacer in the NBA from day one. Additionally, he plays with great energy, and is always active on the court – he never gives up on a play, which suits the Clippers’ vibe very well. On the other hand, his decision-making on both ends is extremely slow, as he fails to read the court well, leading to forced shots offensively and poor rotations defensively. Fi, despite his size and seeming athleticism, also isn’t a very effective rebounder right now, and needs to add some strength so he can better box out and secure some boards. He will learn and adjust as he gets to the NBA, but right now, he’s not ready for more than garbage time minutes.
- Jerome Robinson still inconsistent: Jerome was invisible in the first half. Outside of a three he drained in the 1st quarter (his only one of the night), I didn’t register his presence on the court. He was far more active in the 2nd half, attacking the basket and looking comfortable shooting out of the midrange. However, he missed most of his shots, and was swatted easily at the rim a couple times. Jerome also failed to make much an impact outside scoring, notching only a single assist (at the very end of the game) and bringing in no rebounds. Jerome is still sick, but a second-year lottery pick should stand out in Vegas, especially a scoring guard type player, and Robinson has not thus far. Hopefully a couple days off will get him in better health the rest of the way, and he puts together a couple dominant outings.
- A day after looking like an easy candidate for a two-way spot, Amir Coffey was less impressive tonight, shooting only 3-10 from the floor, and forcing a bunch of bad looks. He has size and athleticism, but he needs to make outside shots for his dribble-drive game to play to its fullest potential.
- Derrick Walton was quietly steady in 13 bench minutes at point guard, looking comfortable running the offense when Mann was on the bench, and forcing several turnovers. He lacks upside due to his lack of height and athleticism, but he’s probably a good 3rd string NBA point guard.
- David Michineau once again rose slightly above the fray, his extensive professional experience in a good French league putting him a cut above the Summer League slop. He cut guys off defensively, hit a couple nice floaters, and dropped a few dimes. At the same time, he doesn’t seem to play with the force necessary for an NBA player, and hasn’t made a true impact so far.
- Kaiser Gates showed some intriguing potential as a 3 and D player, as he knocked down three long balls (on nine attempts), and pulled down six boards. Big wings who can play at least serviceable defense and hit threes in bunches are valuable players, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got a two-way deal from a team.
The Clippers’ next game is Tuesday night at 8:30 PM PT on NBA TV against Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown, and the Washington Wizards. Stay tuned for more Summer League coverage!