LAS VEGAS -- The two Los Angeles teams gave us a thriller at Summer League on Friday, as the Lakers narrowly defeated the Clippers 86-84.
Alright, perhaps, “thriller” is a bit hyperbolic, seeing as both teams shot under 40% from the field. Even so, the game came down to the wire, with Brandon Boston Jr. missing a potential game-winning three. Let’s take a look at the notebook and see what we learned about Boston and the rest of LA’s crop of youngsters after Game 3 of Summer League.
Brandon Boston Jr.
Beyond the missed game-winner (he said postgame that the play was drawn up for him), Boston had another impressive night. A team-high 17 points off the bench, Boston closed the game over teammate Keon Johnson and continued to show off his abilities both on and off the ball. His highlight of the night was a made sidestep three on the left wing on which he was fouled. Boston has now proven through three games that his off-the-dribble game is legit, at least when he’s being guarded by Summer League-level talent. After the game, however, Boston acknowledged that he won’t have too many opportunities to test those skills against NBA talent when he’s playing alongside the senior squad.
"In the regular season,” Boston said, “you're playing with PG, Kawhi, Rondo. You're not going to get those one-dribble 3s."
Wisdom from the 19-year-old. For this reason, it bodes well that Boston has made all four of his corner -three attempts through three games (3-3 from the left corner, 1-1 from the right).
Preston had somewhat of a breakout game against the Lakers, scoring 12 points, dishing out four assists and only turning the ball over once in 26 minutes. After not drawing a single foul in the first two games, Preston was able to get to the stripe five times against the Lakers, knocking down three of his attempts. After the game, Head Coach Jeremy Castleberry made a mea culpa for Preston’s slow start.
“He’s really crafty in pick-and-rolls,” Castleberry said of Preston. “Part of that was on me in those first two games, not putting him in positions to actually do those things. Game 3, I was able to...put him in those positions, and he was successful.”
Preston came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of his 12 points. He had a beautiful up-and-under finish at the rim in transition. In the final seconds of the game, he was able to read the passing lanes and come up with a steal before being fouled in transition (he would make both free throws).
Preston’s success is welcome, as he was looking the least polished of the three rookies through two games.
Johnson continues to struggle, missing his first five shot-attempts and contributing a donut beyond the three-point arc for the game (0-3). Many of his possessions ended in contested midrange jumpers. He has yet to show decent creation off the dribble, and has been unable to draw contact (just one free throw attempt through three games). The athleticism is apparent, but his skillset has left something to be desired thus far.
After an impressive one-foul game against the Blazers, Oturu made the most of the 10-foul Summer League rule against the Lakers, toeing the line of ejection by committing nine (!) personal fouls. It is unclear whether the coaching staff has encouraged Oturu to make the most of the rule, or if he’s just struggled to be patient contesting shots.
Beyond the hack-a-thon, Oturu was careless with the basketball, turning it over five times in 23 minutes. Friday marked the first game this Summer League in which he did not record a double-double (eight points and eight rebounds in Game 3). He doesn’t have the best hands for a big man, and often fumbles the ball when it is fed to him near the rim.
Oturu showed ample passing ability against the Lakers, finding teammate Amir Coffey for a lob in transition. Even more impressive, he found a corner shooter off the short roll in a halfcourt set—this is probably the most essential pass a traditional rim-rolling big can have in his arsenal.
Scrubb was relatively quiet on Friday as a scorer, contributing just eight points, but he proved wrong many doubters who said he could do nothing but score. The second-year guard dished out a team-high six assists, showing competency as a lead ball-handler. It seemed as though the coaching staff made a conscious decision to put the ball in Scrubb’s hands and take it out of Amir Coffey’s.
The Coffey-as-a-distributor experiment ended on Friday night, and as a result his turnovers went down (one in Game 3 after six in Game 1 and three in Game 2). Coffey resumed his regular-season role as a spot-up shooter, but his struggles continued. He went 0-6 from deep against the Lakers, bringing his Summer League three-point tally to a putrid 1-17 (he’s missed his last 15 straight). While it is wise not to put much stock in Summer League stats, the sample size for Coffey is growing.
Coffey has been essentially playing power foward all Summer League. While he's been awful offensively, he’s averaged eight rebounds through three games. At 6'7, could be worth trying out as a backup stretch-four in switching lineups next season (assuming his shots begin to fall again). Obviously, Nicolas Batum has that role locked up when healthy, and if Brandon Boston keeps hitting spot-up threes, he could steal a two-way roster spot from Coffey, but it would be interesting to see him slide up a position.
The Clippers will square off against the Jazz for Game 4 of their Summer League on Sunday at 2 p.m.