Kurt Helin

Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls

Summer League shot of the day: Ryan Boatright with and-1 floater for Brooklyn game winner

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The Nets were down two and they were going to get one last shot at it.

That shot was Ryan Boatright in isolation — and it worked. Not only did he get off a good look but he was fouled in the process for the and-1. He knocked down the free throw.

That gave the Nets an 87-86 lead that ended up being the Final score. Boatright finished with 21 to lead the Nets.

Nik Stauskas looking for redemption in Philadelphia

Sacramento Kings Media Day
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LAS VEGAS — Nik Stauskas’ rookie year was not pretty.

Touted as one of the best shooters in the draft, taken No. 8 by the Kings, he shot just 28.8 percent on jumpers before the All-Star break. He called it the worst slump of his life. It didn’t help that the Kings’ went through three coaches with three different philosophies in one season, but Stauskas isn’t making excuses.

“Very poor,” were the words Stauskas used to describe his play last season. “I didn’t play the way I wanted to and that’s just on me. That’s just on me. That’s why this summer I’ve taken the time to work as hard as I can so I don’t have to go through that and I can show people the player I am in this league….

“Anyone who has three coaches in a year, there’s not going to be a lot of consistency, whether it’s with minutes or style of play and whatnot. But I can’t use that as an excuse on gameday, I’m out on the floor and I’ve either got to put the ball in the basket or not put the ball in the basket, and I wasn’t doing that last year.”

He’s going to do try and get his redemption in Philadelphia.

He was shipped East as part of a salary dump deal by the Kings that also included Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, a future first-round pick and the right to swap first-round picks in 2016 and 2017  going to Philly for second round draft-and-stash guys Arturas Gudatis and Luka Mitrovic. (Philly won that trade by a mile.)

Stauskas started to show some of his promise under the faster-paced, more open style of George Karl — he shot 42.1 percent from three after the All-Star break. But it wasn’t his offense that kept Karl from trusting him more, it was the defense and he knows that’s where he will need to improve.

There were countless times last year I would go on the floor and I was targeted, right away teams would attack me, and the adjustment to the physicality and defense,” Stauskas said. “It’s an adjustment and I’m just getting better every day on it.”

That work was put on hold for a couple weeks after he rolled his ankle this summer, but Stauskas said his ankle is better now, and there was no structural damage.

With Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel in the paint, if Stauskas can knock down threes to space the floor, and if he can play at a fast pace, Brett Brown is going to give him some run.

Stauskas is going to get a second chance to make a first impression. He just wants the one in Philadephia to go much better than that first attempt.

News, notes from Summer League Tuesday: Okafor vs. Porzingis was matchup of the night

New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers
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LAS VEGAS — Tuesday was the final day of the round-robin play at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, which only matters if you care who wins the game. And let’s be honest, not many people do (even the teams, up until the title game). To paraphrase Drew Carey from “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” Summer League is where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.

Still, there were interesting things to see and take note of before the tournament play portion of Summer League begins. Here are things we saw in Las Vegas. (Notes are from Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin.)

• Maybe the most entertaining matchup on Tuesday: The Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis matched up against the Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor. As you would expect the stronger and more polished Okafor won the matchup — he had 18 points on 18 shots — but Porzingis had a couple blocks and a quality shot over Okafor.

“He’s a five man, I’m a four man, so it was a bit of a mismatch,” Porzingis said. “He’s really strong, he’s really good player. Very skilled with the ball, so he’s hard to defend. I just tried in the second half to play more aggressively (fronting him), trying to keep him from receiving the ball. But it’s really hard to stop a player like that.”

Against other Knicks Summer League bigs Okafor seemed to have his way. He just gets to where he wants to be on the court and has an array of moves and shots. He was able to muscle to the rim and score on Porzingis too, but he also had shots blocked and altered — the length of Porzingis bothered Okafor a little.

“I think you could see early on Jahlil is a bigger, stronger player but as the game went on I thought Kristaps made the adjustment and used his activity level and his length and impacted him,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said.

“(Okafor) is a big strong guy, doesn’t mind using his body, any time you’re going to go against length you’ve got to attack the body first, and that’s just a teaching lesson for him right now,” Sixers Summer League coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He’s got great footwork, he’s able to spin out, it’s just creating that initial separation rather than playing to a shot blocker’s strength.”

This is not a matchup the Knicks will want much in the future, but Knicks fans had to love the fight in Porzingis. There’s some real potential here. (KH)

• On another note, Pierce was happy with Okafor’s defense through the summer, although that is still a learning process.

“(Defensively) I thought he’s done a great job,” Pierce said. “He’s never been a big-time shot blocker, the way we’re going to try to use him is to keep him between the ball and the basket, make them score over his size, his length.” (KH)

• Noah Vonleh has been impressive in the Blazers’ first three Summer League games. He’s shown off his athleticism, ballhandling skills and three-point range, which give him an intriguing skillset for a big man. He had 20 points and 8 rebounds in Portland’s 79-75 loss to San Antonio on Tuesday. (SH)

• The more I see Jerian Grant play, the more I like his game. He attacks the paint off the dribble, has fantastic court vision and gets the right guy the rock. He can finish inside and hit some jumpers. Knicks’ coach Derek Fisher was talking about him as a guy who could see a lot of minutes when the season starts if he improves at taking care of the ball.

“We really enjoy having his playmaking out there, his vision, his comfort level with handling the basketball,” Fisher said. “That’s one of the things that really excited us when we drafted him at the number we did (No. 19, a trade with the Wizards) because of that ability. To play the guard in our system, both guards need to be able to make plays, and Jerian gives us a little versatility that way, where he and Langston (Galloway) can play together, he can play with Jose (Calderon), a lot of different combinations we can put out there.” (KH)

• Another Knick playing well in Vegas is Maurice Ndour. If you’re not familiar (and a lot of people weren’t) he’s a power forward/center from Senegal, played his college ball at Ohio (not State), and he went undrafted. But when the Knicks needed buckets late in a close game against the Sixers he had six straight points. He’s got good footwork, hustles on defense and uses his length to be disruptive, he can score in around the basket, and he plays with constant energy.

The problem? The Knicks may not have a roster spot to give him — they have a pretty packed roster, and that includes along the front line.

“I don’t know if there’s any more he can do,” Fisher said of Ndour making the Knicks roster. “I think he’s doing everything that’s at least in his control to be a guy that — whether it’s our team, hopefully so, but there are 29 other teams — he’s giving teams a look that he can play at this level and be pretty good at it.”

Ndour is going to be playing in the NBA this fall. Somewhere. (KH)

• One guy who again looks good in  Summer League — T.J. Warren of the Phoenix Suns. It’s not hard to see why, he thrives in transition, in chaotic games, and that is the definition of Summer League ball. He had 16 points on 13 shots for the Suns on Tuesday. (KH)

• Dallas big man Jeremy Tyler had 15 points and 10 boards, he had a good day out there. (KH)

 

Young stars’ struggles reminder to Lakers that rebuilding is long process

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadlephia 76ers
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LAS VEGAS — Lakers fans are not exactly renowned for their patience.

Nowhere was that more in evidence than Monday night at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, when after an ugly first quarter — 5 points on 2-of-17 shooting, with seven turnovers — Lakers fans that filled the Thomas & Mack booed their young players.

That may have been the lowlight, but the Lakers’ young stars have had their struggles in Sin City. Through two games Julius Randle is shooting 29.4 percent, and has averaged just 3.5 rebounds a game in 20 minutes a night. D’Angelo Russell is averaging 10 points a night on 33 percent shooting through three games, but the bigger issue he has two turnovers for each assist he has dished out. Jordan Clarkson has looked like a guy who has been through an NBA season and scored 18.3 points a game, but he’s shooting just 40.4 percent overall and 26.7 percent from three. Clarkson and Russell have some work to do on their chemistry.

All these struggles should serve as a reminder to the Lakers organization and their fans:

Rebuilding is a long process. Patience is required.

If that seems hard, just recall how the last quick fix — bringing in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash — went.

Plus, there are things to like from the young Lakers, things they have shown in Vegas. That starts with their attitudes.

“Every game matters to me, and me being competitive I forget that it’s just Summer League,” Russell said. “I’m trying to get better so fast, rather than being patient and letting things come to me.”

“I’ve got to get my teammates going, get myself going,” Randle said, clearly frustrated by the rust in his game. “Everything starts with me; I’ve got to be better. End of story.”

Randle looked better in the second half against the Knicks Monday, but he remains a guy with limited moves. When he gets the ball and faces up he has a great first step and but tries to use that and power to get to the rim, not a variety of moves (he did show one spin that drew a foul). He looks in Vegas like a guy who has been away from the game for a year — which is exactly what he is after he broke his right leg on opening night a year ago and had to have surgery. Rust was to be expected.

For Russell, the game just seems to be moving too fast, and he isn’t letting it slow down yet, which is leading to 6.7 turnovers a game. It will eventually start to slow down for him.

“I’m just trying to force the issue to get big guys involved, and for myself forcing the issue on the offensive end trying to just get something out of nothing when it’s not there,” Russell said. “Realizing it’s Summer League and being patient is my problem right now…

“Summer League is great for the adjustment process. I’m young, I feel like I’m going to get better every game, every practice, once I get under the system and get the hang of it a little more.”

While Lakers Summer League coach Mark Madsen has put in plays, the nature of Summer League — a thrown-together roster that doesn’t get a lot of practice time together and is devoid of veterans — leads to an unstructured game. For much of the time in Vegas the Lakers offense has been “watch Jordan Clarkson create stuff” and that hasn’t helped build cohesion and chemistry.

For the Lakers, hope sells.

The strength of that hope and the Lakers brand has been evident in Vegas — Russell and Randle again packed the house Monday, where fans sat in the upper deck (never before at summer league has the curtains had to be pulled back from the upper deck at the Thomas & Mack). When the Lakers have played there have been attendance records this summer.

But there needs to be patience. This coming season those young players will grow while the fans celebrate Kobe. With roster additions such as Lou Williams, Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert — plus hopefully a dash of health thrown in the pot — the Lakers will be respectable on the court.

From there, and as Clarkson/Russell/Randle show their potential, then the big free agents the next couple years will give the Lakers a longer look.

It’s all just going to take time.

Summer League dunk of the day went to Toronto’s Norman Powell

LV Bulls Raptors
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Not bad for a guy known for his defense.

Norman Powell was taken in the second round of the draft (46th overall) by the Bucks, but was shipped to Toronto as part of the Greivis Vasquez deal. The four-year player at UCLA’s best skills were considered to be his defense and athleticism. He fell to the second round because he needs a more consistent jumper, but he has the chance to develop into an NBA rotation player down the line.

Oh, and he can finish in transition. I think we mentioned that athleticism already.