On Tuesday afternoon, Nuggets shooting guard J.R. Smith surprised everybody by suiting up and playing in Denver’s 1:00 PM Summer League game against the Chicago Bulls.
Smith has been an NBA rotation player for some time now, and he was in the mood to put on a show against Chicago’s unimpressive Summer-League squad. Smith fired a flashy no-look pass, drained one of his signature quick-trigger three, and even made a weaving shake-and-bake drive through four defenders before finishing with a soft reverse layup.
In a normal Summer League game, Smith would have been the main attraction. But on Tuesday, not even Smith’s relatively big name and flashy play could take the spotlight off of Ty Lawson, who has been absolutely dominating the Summer League.
Lawson had a very promising rookie season, and it looks like he’s ready to have a breakout sophomore campaign. Lawson is simply on an entirely different level than his Summer League opponents. He tallied 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds on Tuesday, and all that came in only 20 minutes of play.
When Lawson decides to drive, nobody can stay in front of him. He’s made tremendous strides in his ability to shoot off the dribble, and hit some very tough end-of-clock shots on Tuesday. He knows when to make the pass, and his deliveries are almost always on target.
Instead of thinking he’s too talented to take Summer League seriously, Lawson has used Summer League to send a message to the rest of the league. Through five games, Lawson has absolutely torn Summer League apart. He won’t toy with NBA defenses the way he’s toyed with his opponents in Vegas, but one should expect big things from Lawson next season.
If you believe there is a difference between being dunked on and being dunked around, this definitely falls in the latter category.
Still, it’s an impressive move by Toronto’s Anthony Bennett to make the move and dunk around Lakers’ big man Robert Upshaw during the Raptors’ 105-97 preseason win over the Lakers Thursday night.
Bennett only had four points, but Kyle Lowry had another impressive preseason outing with 25. He has looked sharp. Julius Randle had 17 for the Lakers on 7-of-10 shooting.
The Cavs are shorthanded in the backcourt right now, with Kyrie Irving still out and Iman Shumpert sidelined for up to three months. Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re bringing in former Temple guard Dionte Christmas, who played for the Suns in 2013-14:
In 31 games for the Suns two seasons ago, Christmas averaged 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game. He probably won’t get very many minutes if he makes the Cavs’ final roster, but there’s a chance they’ll keep him around on a non-guaranteed deal until Irving and Shumpert are healthy, just to have another body in the backcourt.