A Brief Summary
Wizards’ 1st round pick Rui Hachimura was ruled out before the game, and their 2018 1st round pick, Troy Brown Jr., left early in the 1st quarter with a knee injury, so the Clippers had a significant talent advantage on paper. In actuality… they looked like they had the edge talentwise, as they had the four best players on the court, and led almost the entire game. The Wizards cut into the lead in the 3rd quarter, but a spurt to start the 4th put the game out of reach for good, and the Clippers cruised to a 90-72 victory. Overall, the team played really well, moving the ball a ton and swarming defensively. It was one of the best performances I’ve seen in Vegas thus far.
- Terance Mann dazzles – While Terance’s night was marred by seven turnovers, he dominated the game both statistically and through the “eye test”, putting together a 15 points, 11 rebound, 9 assist game. Once again, he controlled the Clippers’ offense, consistently finding open shooters as well as big men in the paint. When the situation called for it, Terance was aggressive, and he attacked the basket time and time again to good results. He only took one three, but drained it from the corner, and hesitated less than previous games. On defense, he was a hound, pressing the point of attack and calling out things for his teammates. And on the glass? Forget about it. The boards belonged to Terance tonight. Simply put, he looks phenomenal, and he has already earned every penny that the Clippers just guaranteed him today. Mann will also fit in perfectly with the Clippers culture that has been built in recent years: he was bugged that the team lost a game, and said that the team “amped up their level of play” to make sure they wouldn’t drop two in a row. This, in Summer League.
- Mfiondu improves decision making – Although Mfiondu demonstrated some of the same shot-happy tendencies that he had earlier in Summer League, he also moved the ball quicker, and more decisively than previous games. His defense remained a work in progress, but he contested several shots without fouling and pulled in five rebounds in the first half alone. Fi has a lot of work to do, but the coaches clearly emphasized not rushing shots or decisions in general, and Fi’s ability to take that advice to heart was notable. He drained a couple threes, got to the line a few times, and had several thunderous blocks. Again, there’s some roughness there, but clearly a ton of talent, and boundless effort and energy. He, like Mann, is an extremely “Clippers” type player.
- Jerome Robinson bounces back – After a rough couple games in Vegas, Jerome got off to an infinitely better start in this one. He drained four threes in the 1st half alone, all of them taken without any hesitation. He also flashed more of a passing gene, whipping several nice dimes after penetrating the paint. Jerome tried expanding his game more in the 2nd half, to mixed results. While he was able to create open looks and got separation from defenders, he couldn’t finish those shots, especially around the rim. Still, he looked far better and more comfortable in previous nights, which must be a relief to Clips’ fans. Coach Brian Adams said after the game that Jerome went and took shots with the “veteran” Clippers who are hanging out in Vegas, and came to shootaround this morning in good spirits, which showed tonight. Him making that effort on a day he could have rested or relaxed is great to see.
- Amir Coffey stands out – Fresh off signing a two-way deal with the Clippers, Coffey put together his strongest performance in Summer League thus far. He stayed within himself and didn’t force shots, instead being more patient and moving the ball around. When he did take shots, they were mostly good ones, and he drained two threes without any hesitation on the shot. As always, Coffey was energetic going to the rim, and drew several hard fouls (he bounced up just fine). Like Fi, there’s a lot of raw energy there, but it can certainly be harnessed, and tonight, Coffey looked like a potential NBA player.
- The other guys – Kaiser Gates started today over Nigel Hayes, and looked much as he has so far – a big wing who can hit threes and will get some boards. There’s not a ton else there, but he seems fine defensively, and big wings who can shoot and board can make it in the NBA. I still think an NBA team should sign him. Derrick Walton, too, once again played solid, mistake-free basketball. He drained a three from a corner, dished a couple nice assists, and forced a few turnovers. Nothing spectacular, just steady, competent point guard play. David Michineau had some bad shots around the rim, but he also made a really nice spin move for a bucket, and continues to play good defense. He’s probably not an NBA player at this point, but his improvement in recent years is easy to see. Nigel Hayes also played well, pulling in 10 boards in 21 minutes, and nailing a three. I think he could be a nice addition to the Agua Caliente Clippers.
The Clippers’ last game of the preliminary round is Thursday night against the Kings. If they win that game, they will be in the Summer League championship bracket, whereas if they lose, they will almost certainly be on the consolation side. Big stakes!