Saturday, July 5, 2014

2014 Orlando Summer League: Day One Review

The Orlando Summer League kicked off today with a full slate of action in the Amway Center practice facility.  Without further ado, here's a recap of the action.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the day one recap...

Pistons 95 (6.5 Pts) Rockets 89 (1.5 Pts)
The Pistons got things off to a nice start in Orlando, taking 6.5 of the total 8 points from their game with the Rockets this afternoon.  If you're unaware of the old CBA-style point system the OSL uses, teams get one point for winning each quarter, half a point for tying a quarter, and four points for winning a quarter.  The Pistons won the first, tied the second, won the fourth, and most importantly, won the game against Houston.  There were quite a few bright spots on the roster, but no group of players displayed more positive play than the Pistons' three draft picks from 2013.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all scorers in Orlando today with 26 points and 4 rebounds on 8-19 shooting, fueling his offense with easy transition points off of his 6 steals.  KCP looked shaky shooting the ball early, but after seeing a few free throws fall, things really took off.  He scored in a variety of ways, with most of his half-court offense going towards the basket, an encouraging sign for a young player who is inconsistent from three.  When he got open looks from behind the arc, he hit them, finishing 2-5 from three despite missing his first two attempts.  Summer league production always comes with major asterisks, but the underlying factors that led to KCP's big game were very encouraging.  His ball-handling looked extremely improved, and the extra weight he has put on in the months since the season ended is already paying off.  There's four games left for KCP to come down to earth, but this was an excellent start for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Peyton Siva's performance was nothing to scoff at either, as he amassed 16 points and 6 assists in 27 minutes of play.  Siva controlled the pace of the game on offense, played excellent, aggressive defense and made an early statement that the Pistons would be wise to guarantee his contract.  Siva took more free throws (9) than field goals (8), and limited mistakes with only 2 turnovers.  If it weren't for KCP's big day, Siva would have been the headliner from this win.  He sealed the deal with his play down the stretch.  Tony Mitchell also had a nice day, although not on the same scale as KCP and Siva.  Mitchell had 13 points on 4-5 shooting and hit 5 of 6 at the free throw line.  Some his flaws are still there though, as his one miss on the day was an ugly hook shot, and he tried to block every shot within five feet of him.  That resulted in a measly three rebounds and six fouls in 18 minutes played.  It wasn't a bad day by any means, but there are still lots of things Mitchell can work on.

There were few Pistons who played poorly, as Tim Ohlbrecht managed 11 points on 4-4 shooting, although he was posterized by Nick Johnson in the 3rd quarter.  Christian Watford hit 2 threes and scored 11 points, and Brian Cook showed some value as a screener on pick-and-pop plays.  He knocked down two early threes and another long two, but played poorly the rest of the afternoon.  I'll be looking for Justin Harper to steal some of his minutes the rest of the week.  DeAndre Liggins only had 7 points, but pulled down 7 rebounds, had 5 steals and played excellent defense.  The Pistons don't have a defender like Liggins on the roster capable of guarding SFs, so there's a case to be made for him if he keeps playing this way.  David Lighty (20 minutes) and Markel Starks (12 minutes) both struggled, combining to go 0-5 with three turnovers, although Lighty did have 4 steals.

The Rockets were led in scoring by rookie guard Chris Crawford (UDFA, Memphis), who scored 20 points on 8-13 shooting.  However, the real star for the Rockets was 2nd round pick Nick Johnson, who scored 18 points on 7-14 shooting with good defense and several big plays, including this posterization of Tim Ohlbrecht:
via Deadspin

The Pistons play next on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. against the Memphis Grizzlies, who defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 84-63 on Sunday.  Houston plays next against Orlando on Monday.

Nets 101 (6 Pts) Pacers 81 (2 Pts)
I did my best to watch as much of this one as possible, but neither team has a roster featuring many exciting players.  One guy who did stand out while I was watching was Nets F/C Mason Plumlee, who notched 23 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in 24 minutes of play.  Plumlee finished just about everything around the basket, and used his size, length and athleticism to his advantage.  He looked vastly improved from what I saw of him at Duke and last season with Brooklyn.  Marquis Teague, DaJuan Summers and Donte Greene were also in double figures for Brooklyn.  

The Pacers got 21 points from Donald Sloan, who was really the only true bright spot on their roster.  Willie Reed had 6 points, 6 rebounds and blocked four shots.  Indiana's next game is Monday night against Boston, and Brooklyn will take on Miami on Sunday night for their next matchup.
Celtics 85 (6 Pts) Heat 77 (2 Pts)
This game featured two first round guards, as Marcus Smart (6th overall) and Shabazz Napier (24th overall) square off.  The Celtics started Smart at SG alongside Phil Pressey, and had himself an okay day.  Smart scored 10 points, pulled in 5 rebounds, dished out 3 assists and had 5 steals on the day.  He only shot 2-8, but looked composed on offense.  He'll need to improve on his 0-5 three point shooting.  Kelly Olynyk and rookie Mike Moser led the way for the Celtics with 20 and 17 points respectively.

Shabazz Napier's debut probably didn't go as planned, as the two-time NCAA champion missed his first 9 field goal attempts and turned the ball over 8 times.  Napier finished the day with 12 points on 3-15 shooting, and vowed to improve upon the performance after the game.  James Ennis led the Heat with 18 points on 5-11 shooting, and also grabbed 8 rebounds.  His athleticism was impressive, as he had a few eye-opening plays above the rim.  Miami's next contest will be against Brooklyn on Sunday night.  Boston will take on Indiana on Monday night.  

Magic 83 (6 Pts) Sixers (2 Pts)
The Magic saw debuts from three rookies on Saturday, with varying degrees of success, as the host team took 6 points from their opener.  While lottery picks Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton did play, 2nd round pick Devyn Marble stole the show, along with 2nd-year SG Victor Oladipo.  Oladipo led the Magic with 18 points on 6-11 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 3 assists.  Marble put on a show of his own, scoring 13 points on 7 field goal attempts in only 17 minutes.  Gordon and Payton both struggled, as they only combined for 9 points on 4-15 shooting, although Gordon did do this:

This game also featured the return to basketball for Sixers C Nerlens Noel, who had a nice day with 19 points and 4 steals in 27 minutes of game action.  Noel didn't impact the paint as much as you'd hope, only pulling down 2 rebounds and blocking 1 shot.  He was joined in double figures by Casper Ware (14) and Ronald Roberts Jr. (12).  Hollis Thompson pulled down 14 rebounds.  Philadelphia's next game will be on Sunday against OKC, while Orlando will take on Houston on Monday.

Grizzlies 84 (7 Pts) Thunder 63 (1 Pts)
The Grizzlies fell behind after the first quarter, but outscored Oklahoma City 67-44 the rest of the way.  Memphis was led in scoring by 22nd overall pick SG Jordan Adams, who tallied 22 points on 5-12 shooting.  Kalin Lucas had 11 points and was joined in double figures by Jamaal Franklin, Jarnell Stokes and Jarrid Famous who all had 10 points.  The Grizzlies came away with 15 steals in the contest, led by Franklin with 5 and Adams with 4.

Oklahoma City was led in scoring by third-year players Perry Jones III with 15 points and Jeremy Lamb, who scored 14.  The Thunder were held back by a whopping 26 turnovers, as 8 players turned the ball over at least twice.  I didn't get a chance to watch this one, so something amazing may have happened, but I'm not aware of any GIF-able moments.  The Thunder play next against Philadelphia on Sunday evening, while the Grizzlies will play the Pistons on Sunday afternoon.


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (DET): 26 pts (8-18 fg, 2-5 3p, 8-9 ft), 4 reb, 1 ast, 6 stl, 1 blk

Call me a homer if you must, but I think it's hard to argue with the show KCP put on against Houston on Sunday.  He was aggressive at both ends of the floor, got wherever he wanted with improved ball-handling and for the  most part took smart shots.  More of what he showed today will make it hard to start Jodie Meeks over him come fall.  Summer league caveats obviously apply, but this was a great start to the new year for KCP.

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