Play well in the Summer League and you get noticed, and that can get you a contract — maybe not a guaranteed NBA contract, you have to earn you way onto the roster, but you get a shot.
That’s what happened for Ian Clark and Josh Akognon Wednesday, both landed deals with NBA teams. Clark has signed with the Jazz, Akognon with Memphis.
Akognon was claimed off waivers, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. Dallas liked him (he was with the team for a brief stretch last season) but they needed to clear out cap space to sign Monta Ellis and had to cut a few non-guaranteed guys free to make it happen.
Akognon with the Grizzlies is interesting — they need outside shooting (they are chasing Mike Miller right now but made no other significant changes to the roster) and that’s what Akognon brings. The Cal State Fullerton star averaged 17.4 points a game from Summer League and shot 39.1 percent from three. He had some up and down games from deep (1-7 against the Warriors, 4-7 against the Clippers) but he turned a few heads.
Memphis has 13 guaranteed roster spots filled right now (and remember they are chasing Miller hard). We’ll see if there is room for him.
The Clark news comes via Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today.
Clark averaged 12.3 points a game for Golden State during Summer League, capped off by a monster 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting night in the championship game vs. Phoenix.
While the Jazz are a young team not expected to be very good next season I’m not sure how many minutes there would really be in their backcourt for him right now. But they are bringing him to camp at least.
There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.
The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.
Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via CSNBayArea.com.
– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”
Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.
If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.
They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.
All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.