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3 reasons to get excited about the Clippers in Summer League

Summer League may not be to every NBA fan’s taste, but the Clippers could well be worth watching this year.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Memphis Grizzlies v LA Clippers
Jason Preston, Brandon Boston Jr. and more star during last year’s Summer League
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

If you’re a fan of NBA basketball, you’ll probably feel like there hasn’t been a break from the action yet — with free agency quickly following the trade talk that quickly followed the NBA Finals. If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers, it will have felt like an eternity.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m more than ready to have the real thing back. We’ve waited too long to see a healthy Kawhi Leonard again; throw the incoming John Wall into the mix and I think some of us would quite happily skip the Hollywood front office drama we’re currently witnessing for the season to just start today. Unfortunately, we are gonna have to wait a little while longer, but there are still some slices of action for us to sink our teeth into.

I know it’s hard for even the most ardent hoop fans to even get excited about Summer League, but there will be a few things worth paying attention to when it comes to the Clippers young charges in this year’s tournament.

1. Jason Preston’s return.

While there were several injury issues the team had to deal with throughout last season, it kind of all started with Preston being ruled out for the season. It was hardly a hammer blow to championship chances in the way Paul George entering health and safety protocols just before the win or go home play-in game against the Pelicans was, but it was a sad moment for supporters who were excited to see the next chapter of this Ohio University alum’s story.

Preston showed flashes of his playmaking ability during last season’s Summer League and will hope to pick up where he left off in that regard, albeit with the hope that it provides the foundation to a healthy sophomore season — though he technically will qualify for the Rookie of the Year race if anybody is feeling a Ben Simmons 2.0 coming along…

2. Jay Scrubb’s last-chance saloon.

It’s never quite over until it’s over in basketball, but Scrubb may feel this is a huge summer to save his future with the Clippers at the very least. He’s currently one of three free agents that the franchise has on their books (alongside Xavier Moon who is also on the roster for Las Vegas), having already been told that he won’t be receiving a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.

At present, the Clippers have 14 roster spots guaranteed and it feels likely they’ll be hanging onto the 15th for a more natural backup center than their current reserve small-ball options. Scrubb, though, may feel a good performance in Summer League could secure him the second two-way contract that will be on offer after Moussa Diabate claims the first — barring a major change of direction for the Frenchman who was unveiled alongside the mayor just days ago.

Scrubb has been a part of the team since 2020 and it could well become a straight shootout between him, Moon or one of their other young teammates for that final two-way spot.

3. A Reggie Perry comeback story.

This one may have gone under the radar, but Perry was in fact first drafted 57th by the Clippers before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets back in 2020 — as part of the deal that saw Scrubb coming the other way, no less.

It could ultimately mean nothing, but it feels like the start of a nice comeback story for a young guy who has already bounced around the league on a couple of 10-day contracts.

It’s unlikely he’ll be the answer to the backup center question, but securing a two-way deal could mean some minutes there. Playing alongside some of the bright young sparks of the 213, led by Brandon Boston Jr. and the newly-drafted Diabate, may just tip those odds a little more in his favor.