Tag: CLG


News, notes for Summer League Wednesday: Willie Cauley-Stein active, still learning NBA game


The playoff/tournament/whatever you call it round of the NBA Las Vegas Summer League tipped off on Wednesday. Unlike the NBA, you don’t see an increase in intensity now that the playoffs have rolled around — these guys been playing for a job, auditioning for almost a week now. A paycheck is way more motivation than the Summer League crown.

There continue to be plenty of things happening in Vegas, here’s a roundup.

• It was a scary moment when Kings’ No. 6 pick Willie Cauley-Stein left the game Wednesday limping after he banged knees with James Michael McAdoo. After a little treatment and rest he was back in — a relief for a guy who had a lot of teams concerned about his injury potential. Cauley-Stein said he just banged knees.

Cauley-Stein has looked good at times in Vegas, he is incredibly active and athletic, but he may he suffers a little from the old John Wooden line “never mistake activity for achievement.” He needs work to recognize and make NBA-level defensive rotations. That activity isn’t going to work against veterans who know how to exploit it.

“I think Willie always plays hard and he’s still adjusting to the NBA game,” Kings’ Summer League coach John Welch said. “But one thing I love with Willie is you know every night you’re going to know what you get, he’s going to give you effort.”

• The Golden State Warriors beat the Kings on Wednesday to advance to the next round of the playoffs, and the team is coming together under Luke Walton (their coach). The Warriors could pull off the never-before-done NBA title then Summer League title back-to-back.

• Sixers’ rookie guard J.P. Tokoto is going to be battling for minutes with Robert Covington, Nik Stauskas, and Hollis Thompson come the season. He gets what his role will be and that he’s going to have to earn his run this season.

“I’m a realist, I know what it is coming into it,” Tokoto said when asked if he had conversations with the team about his role. “But yeah, we have talked about it — being a defensive guy. Coming in – whether it’s garbage time or giving a vet who is playing more minutes a breather — and disrupting the other team’s offense, attacking the rim on the offensive end, offensive rebounds, being a facilitator coming off a pick, or attacking the rim like I said. Just embracing the moment.”

• And Tokoto proved he can finish at the rim.

• Ryan Boatright, who has had a good Summer League trying to make the Nets (he has a partially guaranteed deal, just a $75K buyout), left the Nets game in the first half Wednesday with a shoulder injury after he took a flagrant foul from the Sixers Steve Zach (who threw a hip into him and knocked him flat during an inbound play).  Boatright came back in and took his free throws, but this is Summer League and there is no reason to make a guy play through injuries.

Just signed Pierre Jackson suited up for his first game for the Sixers, and his pink Kobe’s may have been the most impressive thing we saw from him.


Jackson finished with 9 points on 3-of-9 shooting, and was 0-of-4 from three.


• One thing you consistently hear from college players trying to adjust to the NBA game now is the constant movement of it. With a 24-second shot clock (not 35) and a defensive three seconds in the lane call, there is just a lot more motion and quicker action even in a Summer League game.

• All the big names from Duke’s national championship team — Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow, etc. — were absent from Summer League on Wednesday because they were all in Los Angeles for the ESPYs. Winslow is not playing anymore for the Heat this summer; it is unclear if Okafor returns for the Sixers.

Nik Stauskas looking for redemption in Philadelphia

Sacramento Kings Media Day

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

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)


Kristaps Porzingis nails jumper over Jahlil Okafor (VIDEO)

New York Knicks Draft Picks Press Conference

After being booed on draft night by Knicks fans, No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis has been quickly winning doubters over at Summer League. On Tuesday, he was able to shake Jahlil Okafor from 22 feet to drain a jumper:

The Latvian big man might not play much his rookie year, but his defensive instincts have been better than expected for a 19-year-old and his offensive skillset is undeniable.

Jahlil Okafor shows off offensive potential vs. Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadlephia 76ers

The Lakers couldn’t have gone wrong picking at No. 2, choosing between Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. It will be three to five years before we know if the Lakers made the smarter choice, but there was not a bad one.

However, the polished Okafor was always more likely to be the better rookie. He showed some of that off against the Lakers in a summer league game Saturday, scoring 19 points (on 6-of-14 shooting), grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists, leading the Sixers in all three categories.

Once again, check out the patience, court awareness and footwork on this play.