LAS VEGAS -- Game 2 of the LA Clippers’ 2021 Summer League is a wrap, and it was a rough one. The Portland Trail Blazers (featuring quite possibly the most unlikely veteran trio to ever grace the Thomas & Mack Center in Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried and Michael Beasley) annihilated the Clippers 86-66, holding LA to just 27.3% shooting. It was ugly, but there is still much to be taken away from this loss pertaining to LA’s crop of young talent. Let’s take a look at the notes, penned live from Las Vegas.
Johnson made the first three of his Summer League career on Tuesday, knocking down a pull-up three on which he was fouled. He would go on to complete the four-point play, but it was all downhill from there. Johnson finished the game 1-8 from deep, tallying just eight points as a team-low -25. His jump shot doesn’t look broken by any means, but it isn’t pretty, either. Unlike teammate Jason Preston, Johnson doesn't have a college resume to point to in order to assure fans that his shooting will improve. He shot just 27.1% from deep last year at Tennessee, and although 1-13 through two games is unsustainably bad, he has yet to give any evidence that he can be reliable in that department.
Even so, it’s something he’s going to have to keep trying as a wing in the modern NBA. When I asked him postgame whether the coaching staff has been encouraging him to continue shooting despite his struggles, Johnson said they have faith in him.
“They’ve been comfortable with me taking those shots,” Johnson said. “Some of them maybe were not in the flow of the game, but some of them were in the flow. I’m comfortable knocking those shots down...It’s something I’ve been preparing for the past three months.”
Johnson’s preparation has yet to translate to in-game success.
His passing looked much improved in this game, dishing out a team-high six assists. He found Kerwin Roach in transition in the second quarter, launching a perfect lob.
Oturu has now recorded back-to-back double-doubles, scoring 11 points and grabbing 13 rebounds against Portland after dropping 12/10 on Monday against Milwaukee. He’s made the most of his size, out-muscling smaller players for rebounds and earning deep post position. He’s also recorded a whopping nine blocks through two games.
After taking advantage of the 10-foul limit of Summer League against the Bucks, recording six fouls in 29 minutes, Oturu committed just one against the Blazers. To block five shots and only commit one foul is a great sign of patience from the big man.
Oh, and he should stop attempting shots outside of the paint immediately. Oturu short-armed an elbow jumper and later Andrew-Bynum-airballed a three at the top of the arc. Summer League is the time to experiment, but if he’s trying to prove himself as a viable center, he needs to stick to his strengths.
Brandon Boston Jr.
Boston continues to look the most comfortable of the three 2021 LA draft picks. He finished the game with 10 points on 4-9 shooting, and a beautiful bounce pass out of a crossover to a diving Isaiah Hicks in the first quarter showed he has creation skills not often found in someone at his size.
While his off-the-dribble creation for himself and others is exciting, he’s not going to get many opportunities as a creator in the regular season. He will, however, be asked to knock down corner threes. He’s done that through two games in Summer League (an extremely small sample size compared to his 25 games at Kentucky, in which he hit just 30 of his 100 attempts). Whether this will carry over to the regular season will determine how much playing time he gets.
Boston continues to look mobile on defense, showing an ability to help and recover by taking advantage of his length.
I had very few notes on Jason Preston because he played just 14 minutes, recording zero points, two assists and two turnovers. It’s unclear whether Head Coach Jeremy Castleberry pulled Preston in order to give Roach and Jordan Ford more playing time in a blowout, or if there were other factors at play. Regardless, the lack of notes are telling. He’s been unimpressive so far as a ball-handler, and his slight frame has hindered his ability to stay in front of his man.
Hopefully, he’ll be given more minutes on Friday against the Lakers, and he’ll be able to run more pick-and-roll (which seems to be the most promising aspect of his game).
After a sensational 24-point night against the Bucks, Scrubb’s shooting fell back to Earth against the Blazers, hitting just four of his 20 shot attempts en route to 15 points. He continues to rebound like a mad man, grabbing 10 boards for the second-straight game, but the holes in his game were much more glaring when his jump shot wasn’t falling. Scrubb did record his first assist of Summer League against the Blazers (a lob to Keon Johnson) but his halfcourt playmaking still needs so much work. He doesn’t seem to have an eye for his teammates when he’s isolating at the top of the key, preferring to take contested jumpers rather than finding shooters.
Yikes—Amir Coffey has had about as rough a start to Summer League as could be imagined. Through two games, Coffey has turned the ball over nine times and hit just one of his 11 three-point attempts. Perhaps it was the frustration of missing shots that led him to say something (multiple things?) towards or near a referee, who promptly gave Coffey two technicals and tossed him from the game.
To be fair, Coffey shot 41.1% from deep last season for LA. He’s proven himself in far bigger moments than Summer League.
Next up, the Clippers will face their crosstown rival Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at 7 p.m.