Las Vegas Summer League Day 3: Studs, Duds
Day three of the Las Vegas Summer League is in the books. Rather than playing four games in the Cox Pavilion, the Thomas and Mack Center opened up and seven games were played on Sunday afternoon. Here are the studs and duds from a packed day three:
Dominique Jones, Dallas Mavericks – Nobody could slow down Jones on Sunday afternoon. The third-year shooting guard erupted for 32 points and 8 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon. The Denver Nuggets tried switching and double-teaming to limit Jones’ scoring, but nothing worked. He carried the Mavericks and led them to an 11-point victory. Jones scored in a variety of ways, from knocking down jump shots to finishing at the rim. Jones is one of the best scorers competing in Las Vegas, and this is likely the first of many big games that he’ll have over the next week and a half.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs – Everyone knows Leonard as the role player who plays lockdown defense and knocks down open shots in San Antonio. However, in Las Vegas, Leonard is the focal point of the Spurs’ team and he showed why on day three. The second-year forward finished with 23 points, four rebounds and three assists. With the game on the line, Leonard took over. He scored at will and played exceptional defense in the Spurs’ six-point win. Not bad for his first Summer League game.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers – In the first half, it looked like Lillard was going to end up on the list of duds. He was 2-10 from the field and struggling on offense. However, Lillard had a huge second half, finishing with 25 points and four assists. He led the Portland Trail Blazers’ to three-point win after the team was trailing by 17 points at halftime. Once he settled in and got comfortable, Lillard was the best player on the court and put the team on his back. Everyone was looking forward to seeing the point guard match-up in this game, and it’s clear that Lillard got the better of Austin Rivers.
Brad Beal, Washington Wizards – While he struggled to find his jump shot against the D-League Select Team on Sunday, Beal was very aggressive and finished with 20 points and six rebounds. He attacked the basket much more on day three, using his athleticism to blow past defenders and finish at the rim. He was also playing excellent defense, shutting down the opposing guards. Late in the game, the Wizards were trailing by nearly 20 points, but Beal brought the team back and made things interesting. After struggling earlier in the the evening, Beal stepped up when his team needed him most, which is exactly what the Wizards wanted to see from the third overall pick.
Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns – After missing out on Summer League play due to last year’s lockout, Morris was very impressive in his Las Vegas debut. Phoenix’s 2012 first-round pick Kendall Marshall didn’t play because he hasn’t signed his contract yet so all eyes were on Morris. The big man didn’t disappoint, finishing with 21 points, 9 rebounds and two blocks. Morris led the Suns to a 25-point win over the New York Knicks and had one of the more dominant performances of Sunday afternoon. Once Marshall makes his debut, Morris’ job should be even easier since the rookie point guard does an excellent job of setting his teammates up for easy baskets.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats – This is an environment that Walker should thrive. As a second-year player who played a lot of minutes as a rookie and as a guard who dominates the ball, he has every opportunity to score and take over the game. On Sunday, the Bobcats needed a big performance from Walker, especially with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sidelined due to a knee injury. Instead, Walker struggled, finishing with just 13 points on 2-14 shooting. While he did a good job of getting his teammates involved and displayed leadership, Walker needs to put up better numbers. Missing 12 of his 14 shot attempts isn’t going to cut it, especially considering he’s usually the best player on the court.
Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets – At 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, everyone flocked to the Thomas and Mack Center to see Rivers make his Summer League debut. With Anthony Davis sitting out after playing with Team USA, Rivers is the focal point of the Hornets. While he had every opportunity to score on day three, he wasn’t able to get going. He finished with just 14 points on 3-13 shooting. He also committed six fouls and four turnovers while letting Damian Lillard go off for 25 points. It wasn’t Rivers’ best game, but he’ll look to bounce back when New Orleans plays the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.
Jan Vesely – Vesely continues to struggle, especially on the defensive end. After committing 10 fouls in the Wizards’ first game, Vesely had eight more on day three. After the game John Wall joked that the team is going to start calling him “Hack-a-Jan” because he kept sending the opposition to the free-throw line. Vesely missed several dunks as well and wasn’t very effective on the offensive end. Going forward, Vesely needs to limit his turnovers and make more of an impact on offense, especially on nights like Sunday when Brad Beal and Chris Singleton struggled to find their shot for much of the game.
Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors – After an outstanding 21-point performance on day one, Ross struggled on Sunday. He had 14 points on 4-14 shooting from the field. He also committed five fouls and five turnovers. Ross is a bit undersized and he tends to struggle when the opposition gets physical with him. While he continued to be aggressive and got to the line when his shot wasn’t falling, this wasn’t a very good outing for Ross. He’ll have a big test on Monday afternoon when he faces off against Dominque Jones and the Dallas Mavericks.
Chris Singleton, Washington Wizards – Singleton struggled against the D-League Select Team, scoring just 9 points and picking up 8 fouls in the Wizards’ loss. Not only was his shot not falling, Singleton let his foul trouble frustrate him. He spent much of the evening jawing at the ref rather than trying to make an impact, and he didn’t display the leadership that the Wizards were hoping to see from the second-year player. Singleton has played well this week, but his performance on Sunday was forgettable.