Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Orlando Summer League: Day 4 notables
By Jordan White
Here, in no particular order, are some notable performances from Day 4 of the Orlando Pro Summer League:
Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
The second of the Magic's first-round picks continued his upward trajectory in terms of improvement, looking nothing like his jittery first-game self. Payton admitted that the speed of the game bothered him a bit initially, but he seemed well adjusted Tuesday. He ran the pick-and-roll about as well as can be expected, creating opportunities out of it both for himself and his teammates. His one-on-one ability was also on full display, taking his defender off the dribble several times, getting into the lane with little turbulence. Payton's clearly playing to his strengths so far, as he's yet to shoot from distance, which was one of the biggest knocks on him coming into the draft.
Jamaal Franklin, Memphis Grizzlies
Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes, the Grizzlies' draft picks this year, have been the main story for Memphis so far, but Franklin, the team's high second-round pick in 2013, is also here for the Grizzlies. Unfortunately, he hasn't played nearly as well as the other parts of the team's youth movement. Franklin was always going to be a development project, but he hasn't really shown any discernible progress from last summer. He only shot 2-of-8 Tuesday, and most of the ones he took from any sort of distance were well short. He's not much of a ball handler, either, as he turned the ball over three times. Obviously, no one expected Franklin to completely transform into a useful player in just a year, but it's a bit disheartening to see a lack of progress on the offensive end.
DeAndre Liggins, Detroit Pistons
Summer League is an opportunity for those who had a brief taste of the NBA to prove they still belong at the table. They know they'll never be stars, but they want to show teams they can contribute in some valuable way. Liggins is one of those players. Tuesday, he displayed what he can bring to an NBA team: first was his defense, as he guarded both point guards, shooting guards and even some small forwards. Second was his shooting. He was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, each shot coming from good movement without the ball. Third was his ball movement. Liggins will never be asked to run a team, but today he made several nice passes that showed you can trust him to not kill your team with turnovers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
It wasn't KCP's best day in terms of shooting, as he went just 8-for-20 from the field, but he showed great perseverance. Caldwell-Pope must have been knocked down a half dozen times, including one scary fall that saw him leave the game momentarily with an apparent ankle injury. Every time, however, he got up and kept playing, going hard to the rim since, at least at first, his outside shot wouldn't fall. The ankle injury may have been KCP's personal lowlight of the game, but his highlight was a nice slam that finished a nice alley-oop on the break.
Tony Mitchell, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons drafted Mitchell in 2013 in hopes that his basketball IQ would catch up to his immense physical gifts. And while Mitchell was 4-for-5 from the field Tuesday, it still seems like Mitchell has a long way to go before he can be counted on to produce at the NBA level. He often looks lost on the court if he doesn't have the ball in his hands or if he's not at least heavily involved with the offense. His two blocks were certainly nice, especially one he had at the rim, but the other nuances of defense -- footwork, positioning, timing -- seemed mostly lost on him. Mitchell's case is similar to that of Franklin, in that while a one-year transformation was never a possibility, some sort of development would have been nice to see.
Kalin Lucas, Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies went with a different look at point guard Tuesday, starting Lucas in place of Scottie Wilbekin. The result of the move was a steadier offense and more production at the point guard position on both sides of the ball. Steady may not sound exciting, but it's how Lucas needs to perform if he's going to make the team. He played mostly mistake-free, posting just one turnover to his three assists. Lucas is undersized, listed at just 6-1, but he has a knack for getting into the teeth of the defense and, once he's in the paint, scoring with a nice array of floaters and layups.
Hollis Thompson, Philadelphia 76ers
There's so much to like about Thompson's game. He's a tweener, but in a good way, able to play both the three and the four depending on the matchup. He's a good defender, a great rebounder (he had 14 in his first game in Orlando), a much-improved shooter and an able passer. He seamlessly morphs and shifts from role to role, depending on what the Sixers need him to do. His stat sheet reads like a poor man's Andrei Kirilenko -- a few blocks and steals here, double-digit rebounding and scoring here, and who knows, maybe even a few assists. Thompson emerged last season as a diamond in the rough unearthed by Philadelphia. The key to him sticking in the league now is consistency. He struggled with his shooting in his first game (hitting none of his 3-pointers), but flourished Tuesday, hitting four of them. If he can consistently perform at this level, filling up the stat sheet as he does, he won't be a one-year wonder.