By, matt | July 11, 2019, 11:33 p.m.
The Summer League Playoffs begin to-morrow, folks. If you’re not a psycho like me and haven’t watched nearly every Summer League game so far, fret no more! Here’s a quick recap of the most interesting things to happen in the 2019 Summer League regular season:
Lonnie Walker IV
This dude is just on another level. 30 points, 4 boards, 1.5 steals, and 1 block on 58% shooting thru his first two games. All the G League experience last year clearly did him good -- these Summer League guys can’t guard him and he knows it. When he has the ball, he immediately attacks. Drives to the rim, pullup threes, doesn’t matter… he’s scoring any way he wants and he’s doing it with so much confidence, just a blast to watch.
With performances like these, he’ll surely get some heavy playing time in the big leagues this year. And if the Spurs decide to move Derozan during the season, he can step into that role and develop alongside Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Luka Samanic.
New Orleans Pelicans
There’s been nothing uninteresting about the Pels’ summer. They won the draft lottery at 32/1 odds, traded their superstar, AD, for a boatload of picks, and drafted the number one prospect since LeBron, in Zion Williamson. And in Summer League, they lost Zion to (a minor) injury, played thru an earthquake, and have seen their other two first rounders, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, dominate and help them jump out to a 3-1 start… if Griffin was looking for excitement coming to New Orleans, he’s definitely found it.
Jaxson Hayes was in theory a great pick for New Orleans at number nine in the draft. They needed an athletic big who can protect the rim on defense and sky for lobs from Jrue, Lonzo, and Zion. But at Texas, Hayes was unpolished and raw, projected to be anything from a DeAndre Jordan, an athletic, all-team defense lob finisher, to a Kenneth Faried, a ball of energy but too unskilled to earn meaningful minutes over an entire season. But so far, Hayes has been the best center in Summer League. His first game, he put up 28 points, 4 boards, and 3 blocks and altered every shot within armsreach. He didn’t put up quite the scoring in his second game, but he did give us the dunk of the summer:
Hayes’ fellow draftmate, Alexander-Walker, has been another Summer League standout and has looked like an NBA vet out there. He doesn’t blow you away with athleticism or do anything flashy, he’s just a big guard with great court vision who knows how to use his size and get to the rim. Defensively, his length allows him to contest jumpers and disrupt passing lanes and just be an overall pest. He should get plenty of opportunity to run the second unit this year and if he continues to develop chemistry with Hayes, New Orleans could be Lob City this season.
I wasn’t blown away with Herro at Kentucky and thought Miami may have reached to take him 13th in the draft, but so far, he looks like one of the most polished, NBA-ready guys in the Summer League. During his time at UK, I thought he looked somewhat passive and really just looked like a spot up shooter and nothing more. But in Summer League, he’s taking guys off the dribble, penetrating in the lane, and kicking out to open shooters consistently. And his touch around the rim is delicately accurate… the floater game is real with this guy.
I don’t see why Herro couldn’t carve out a Joe Harris or even JJ Reddick type of role in Miami. He can be deadly off ball, coming off of some floppy or zipper actions and nailing down kick out threes from Jimmy Butler. The key for him to earn heavy minutes will be on the defensive side of the ball -- he’s looked fine so far in Summer League, but he’ll be attacked in the regular season by athletic NBA pros, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can stick with his man on the perimeter.
The Most Intresting Things in the Summer Leage So Far