Summer League continued Monday in Orlando with three games of varying intrigue.
You do not want to put a whole lot of stock into results or into statistics coming out of these game,s but there is still quite a bit we can learn. And, as I noted yesterday, lots of storylines to follow. We will be trying to keep track of them as the week goes on with these daily recaps of Summer League action.
Marcus Smart continues to struggle
Certainly the rookies will continue to be a source of intrigue and interest throughout the entire Summer League in both Orlando and Las Vegas. We all want to see how these players handle their first trip in the NBA spotlight.
Generally, the rookies looked relatively nervous in their first outings and had to settle down and get used to the pace of the game. That has slowly started happening.
For Marcus Smart, it might take a little bit longer. Smart struggled once again, making 3 of 15 shots for 11 points. He was a little bit better and patient in attacking the lane and dishing off to big men underneath. He had a nice bounce pass to Phil Pressey on the fast break in the first half.
Smart’s offense though was always going to be the big concern. He continues to handle himself well on the defensive end. The shooting numbers remain concerning. He looked extremely out of rhythm, especially shooting from beyond the arc.
In the end, Smart will likely be fine. He is a Lottery pick, so the only concern for him would be meeting expectations. Those might be outsized anyway because of the anticipation of waiting for him. Scouts knew his shot would be a work in progress. It certainly is. That is all that he has proven this week.
Highlight of the Day: Elfrid Payton
Summer League Defense?
The Magic put on a defensive clinic in the first half of their Summer League game against the Rockets.
Houston shot 3 for 18 in the first quarter in a suffocating defensive performance. It looked like Orlando was rotating and playing together at regular season speed. Really mid-season speed. They did not look like a team that had only five practices and one game under their belt.
The Rockets had no answers at all trying to crack the team’s defense. Houston shot 32.4 percent from the floor and just 5 for 26 from beyond the arc. The Rockets had a hard time finding any kind of offensive rhythm. The Magic seemed there to meet every attack.
That is certainly part of what Orlando is trying to build from the ground up. Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton were drafted for their defensive potential as much as anything else. They showed that again in this game as they had in the first game against Philadelphia — another game where an opponent was held below a point per possession. This is a team that is really establishing its identity early on here.
We will see how much carries over.
Guy You Should Know: Willie Reed
The Pacers put in a monster comeback to defeat the Celtics, trailing by 18 points at one point in the first half before winning by 19. And that was not even the largest their lead was at any point in this game.
A big reason why was the bullish play of center Willie Reed. Reed scored 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting to lead the way for Indiana in the game.
Reed is a 6-foot-10 forward from Saint Louis who last played for the Reno Bighorns in the D-League. He averaged 14.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last season for Reno and Springfield in the D-League. This was a guy who is tough to handle around the rim.
He was not afraid to push people around in the paint in this one and his stellar play underneath helped the Pacers set the tone.
Mitch McGary was something of a mystery entering the draft since he had not played since December 2013 and faced the drug suspension that led to his early entry into the NBA. He admitted earlier in the week that he was not sure what kind of shape he would be in — and the Thunder continue to monitor his minutes.
So far, McGary has to be considered something of a success. The game has come back naturally to him.
McGary had 18 points and 13 rebounds, showing the tenacity to mix things up in the paint when called for and the soft touch to step out and hit the jumper. That is exactly what McGary was advertised to be able to do. The rest of his game will continue to come back for him.
The Thunder have to like the progress he has made so far for sure.
Summer League Power Rankings
1. Magic (2-0, 13 points)
2. Pistons (2-0, 11.5 points)
3. Grizzlies (1-1, 10 points)
4. Heat (1-1, 10 points)
5. 76ers (1-1, 8 points)
6. Thunder (1-2, 10 points)
7. Pacers (1-1, 8 points)
8. Nets (1-2, 7 points)
9. Celtics (1-1, 8 points)
10. Rockets (0-2, 2.5 points)
All Summer League Team
G Victor Oladipo, Magic
G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Pistons
C Mason Plumlee, Nets
F James Ennis, Heat
F Jeremy Lamb, Thunder