Random Thoughts on the NBA Summer League (Days 2-4)

Jul 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne (33) shoots the ball during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne (33) shoots the ball during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

As Summer League play rolls on in Orlando and Salt Lake City, we take a look at some of the stories coming out of the gyms.

To paraphrase Kanye West: Yo, #OrlandoSummerLeague, I’m happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but #UtahSummerLeague is the most entertaining right now.

But first: let’s raise a cup of coffee (or wine) to Boris Diaw–aka Bobo, The Borista, or The Big Croissant–who will be traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Utah Jazz to make room for the addition of Pau Gasol to the Spurs team.

He will now join forces with another countryman, French center Rudy “The French Rejection” Gobert.

Diaw was one of the most entertaining players on the Spurs (not that that’s a hard thing to do), and in the league. He and his ability to not only shoot, but back down defenders at the basket–and score–for the Spurs will be missed.

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Now, back to the matter at hand. Here are my thoughts on both leagues, to date (Utah began on July 5).

Orlando Summer League (days 3 & 4)

The Charlotte Hornets squad continued to play well on Day 3 (Monday, July 4) of the Orlando Summer League, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder squad 78-74.

Hornets guard Aaron Harrison is determined to remain on the team’s regular season roster come October; he got hot in the second half and dropped 13 of his 19 points. The next game is Wednesday, July 6 (Day 5) at 3 p.m. EDT against the Dallas Mavericks squad.

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The Thunder squad were without standouts

Cameron Payne


Mitch McGary

–though, to be fair, they were probably

still reeling


Kevin Durant

‘s departure to the

Golden State Warriors


Both squads had Wednesday, July 5 (Day 4) off. Good for the Thunder squad; they probably needed that time to grieve (and drink).

In the meantime, The Orlando Magic White squad continued to improve to 2-0, while the Blue squad continued to struggle. The White squad won its game against the Mavs squad to improve to 2-0.

Despite the loss, Vander Blue continues to dominate for the Mavs squad; at this rate, he should be a shoo-in for some team’s training camp in September. All five starters for the White squad ended up in double digits; Treveon Graham and Brandon Fields both had 14 points.

The Blue squad dropped its last two games against the Detroit Pistons squad (Day 3) and Miami Heat (Day 4) squads, respectively, and now have an 0-3 record.

The Orlando White and Mavs squads also had Wednesday (Day 4) off, and resume play today: the Mavs against the Hornets, and Orlando White against the New York Knicks squad.

Speaking of the Knicks squad: they did indeed improve to 1-1 after beating the Los Angeles Clippers squad, 92-84, on Tuesday (Day 4), after having the Fourth of July off.

Perhaps a holiday was what people needed, as signs of life emerged from notables Brice Johnson and Diamond Stone (Clippers) and J.P. Tokoto (Knicks). It was Ron Baker and Chasson Randle, though, that carried the day for the Knicks squad.

The Clippers are now 0-2 in the Orlando Summer League.

The Knicks squad plays the Magic’s White squad Wednesday, while the Clippers squad get the day off and face the White squad Thursday.

The Heat squad is still wrecking shop after a decisive win on Day 4 over the Magic’s Blue squad, 84-68. Josh Richardson and Briante Weber carried the load for the Heat, while Justise Winslow chipped in 15 points on rather poor shooting.

Stephen Zimmerman, Nick Johnson, and Tyler Harvey delivered for the Blue squad, though it ultimately wasn’t enough when the Heat took over in the third quarter.

The injury bug bit the Blue squad:  Zimmerman had to leave the game after jamming his fingers, and Devyn Marble left with a bruised kneecap.

Both squads next play on Thursday, July 6: Blue vs. the Mavericks squad, and Heat squad vs. Pistons squad.

The Indiana Pacers squad regressed a bit with a close loss to the Pistons squad on Day 4.

Stanley Johnson and Glenn Robinson III again stepped up and led their respective squads, but the Pistons were the ones to prevail behind Johnson’s 16 points and five rebounds. First-round draft pick Henry Ellenson chipped in with 14 points.

Pacers squad plays the Thunder squad today, while the Piston squad rests up before facing the Miami squad tomorrow (July 7).

And now…onto the good stuff.

Utah Summer League (days 1 & 2)

I have two words to sum up the first two days of the Utah Summer League: YES, INDEED!

First, the games are played in a real venue: the home court of the Jazz.

Second: the quality of play is much, much better. Though the Utah Summer League only has four teams (Boston Celtics; Philadelphia 76ers; Spurs; Jazz), they make up for in quality what they lack in quantity.

This session featured the debut of the 2016 No. 1 draft pick, Ben Simmons (Sixers), and the No. 3 pick, Jaylen Brown (Celtics).

The Utah Summer League started on July 4. The Spurs squad, the defending champions of the Las Vegas Summer League, smacked the Jazz squad 84-69.

On Day 2 (July 5), they played the 76ers and survived a late-game run (in which Simmons did not play that day) to squeak out a win,  95-91.

All hail “Ky-Jo”: the deadly combination of third-year veteran Kyle Anderson and second-year swingman Jonathon Simmons.

These two have led the Spurs in scoring in both games (they combined for 43 points on Day 1 alone, and for 58 points on Day 2) and have kept the team on an even keel. Simmons has been in beast mode these past two games and has managed to keep his fouls to a minimum.

Anderson–the guard normally known as “Slo-Mo”–has shown a stroke that gets sweeter with each passing quarter (his three-pointers, though…)

Undrafted Villanova standout Ryan Arcidiacono  along with Anderson and Simmons, has started for the past two games. The trio also helped close the tight game against the Sixers on Day 2.

Arcidiacono shows that he is more of a pure point guard, setting up good plays for his teammates while scoring on occasion. His defense was strong and he will be a good addition to the Spurs roster, should he make it past training camp.

[Sidebar: one of the announcers, Craig Bolerjack, got tired of struggling with the pronunciation of Arciadiacono’s last name, and just decided to call him “Archie” for the rest of the game.”  Bless his heart.]

For the record: it’s pronounced “Ar-chee-dee-AH-coh-noh”

Alex Kirk, a center who played in Italy last season after a stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, has proven solid around the rim. He has good court vision and instincts, which led to glorious plays such as this:

A pleasant surprise has been the emergence of Bryn Forbes, another four-year player (along with Arcidiacono) who went undrafted out of Michigan State.  He has proven to be an impressive shooter, especially behind the arc, and dropped 23 on the Sixers squad.

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If you’re a Spurs fan, you have to be excited for the upcoming season, especially if the aforementioned five players are on the roster for October. A “Juice Unit” squad of Anderson, Simmons, Arcidiacono, Forbes, Kirk, and

Manu Ginobili

–my soul says yes.

Simmons and Brown have been as advertised for their respective squads, though they were both hampered by minor injuries. Brown will miss the remainder of the Utah Summer League due to a hyperextended knee.

Simmons left the first game of the Summer League with leg cramps, which were deduced to be a byproduct of the altitude. He felt better on Day 2 after hydrating but the coach decided not to play him.

The Jazz have struggled against the other teams and currently stand at 0-2. Second-year veteran Trey Lyles led the team in both outings (13 and 26 points, respectively), but he can’t do it alone.

Dionte Christmas shows flashes, but he and the rest of his teammates need to be more consistent and give Lyles some help.

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There are no Utah Summer League games Wednesday night, with play resuming Thursday (July 7): Celtics vs Spurs and Sixers vs. Jazz. Make sure to tune in on NBA TV or ESPN 3, or on your ESPN app. It’ll be worth it.