Jason Preston, the Ohio University product that the Los Angeles Clippers selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, missed all of his rookie season due to foot surgery. Instead of getting on the floor and showcasing his point guard chops, Preston had to sit on the sidelines and watch others play the game he loves.
Last season, the only glimpses you’d see of Preston were of him going through shooting drills inside the Clippers’ Playa Vista facility, the Honey Training Center. But it now appears that Preston has been able to ramp up in preparation for this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, which Preston will take part in as a member of the Clippers.
There are some reasons for optimism surrounding the young guard. He flashed playmaking and shooting during his stint during last year’s Summer League, and he’s clearly one of the more intriguing storylines around this year’s team.
During media availability on Tuesday, Preston detailed what last season was like for him.
“It was just a big learning experience,” Preston said. “Being in the NBA is obviously a dream of mine and just growing up, I watched a ton of it from like my house and on YouTube. But actually being there, being able to ask the actual people I want to ask questions, it was a huge benefit.”
That missed season definitely wasn’t something Preston wanted to have happen, but it also allowed him to get his body into better shape. Preston admitted he “got to tack on an extra 15 pounds” thanks to the weight room and eating healthier.
“It’s a lot easier [in Los Angeles] to find healthier options than in Athens, Ohio,” Preston remarked with a chuckle.
The time away from the game, at least from an on-court perspective, also has seemingly fueled Preston in his drive to get back on the floor. Preston admitted to reporters on Tuesday that he wasn’t able to go full-speed in his activity until roughly “three weeks after the season.” In the time since, Preston says he’s been doing 5-on-5 for “about three days a week.”
Towards the end of last year’s Summer League campaign, Preston really came alive. In the final three games that the Clippers played, Preston averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 assists on 48.5% shooting. That production has left observers wanting more, and the time away from the game only heightened Preston’s eagerness to get back out there.
“I’m familiar with the [Summer League] coaches, more familiar with the players, so I’m really excited for this second go-round,” Preston said when asked if there’s a degree of confidence he can take into this year’s Summer League following how he finished last year’s.
It’s hard to pinpoint just how much time Preston will get with the Clippers in the NBA this coming season, but he should see plenty of action with the newly-named Ontario Clippers in the G League. Still, it’s never a bad thing to have an option like Preston on the back-burner. Maybe, depending on circumstances, he’ll get his time to shine and dazzle the masses that have awaited his NBA debut.
The Clippers’ current odds to win the Las Vegas Summer League championship, according to DraftKings, is +3000. In essence, somewhat of a long shot. But with players such as Brandon Boston Jr., Jay Scrubb and Moussa Diabate on the roster, there’s a real chance the Clippers could make a Cinderella run in the desert. Do the Clippers have what it takes to deliver the upset? Maybe that’s what has Jason Preston so “excited” to get this stint underway.