The Summer Spurs bounced back after a loss in their first game of the Utah Summer League. Led by Derrick White’s 21 points and nine assists, they beat the Summer Hawks 103-81 despite resting first round draft pick Lonnie Walker.
White had his second great performance in as many games in Utah, completely dominating the first half and doing enough in the second to get the Summer Spurs their first win. Without Walker IV, White had the ball all to himself with the starting lineup. He knew what to do with it, logging 18 of his 21 points and four of his nine assists for the night in the first two frames. The sophomore carried the offense while the whole team played tight defense to essentially end the game in the first half.
After finding themselves down by 27 points at the break, the Hawks played more aggressively and started trapping White. While he struggled under pressure at times, he also found ways to make Atlanta pay, dishing out five assists in the second half. The Spurs’ defensive intensity held, which allowed them to survive some scoring droughts and fueled their transition offense. In the end everyone who suited up for the Spurs scored except for Maverick Rowan, who only played two minutes. But the win belongs to White, who continues to prove that he might be too good for Summer League.
- White was impressive across the board, but his ability to run the pick and roll deserves special attention. He does a good job of putting his man in jail after the pick, so that he can’t get back on the play. With the initial defender on his hip, he can use a hesitation dribble or change of speed to bait the big man into committing. From there, he can either speed past him, throw a floater or find the big man on the lob. He’s just incredibly shifty in those settings. As a secondary playmaker, he should be able to use that ability to create on the big club.
- Chimezie Metu started at center this time around, facing the similarly skinny John Collins. He did really well in the first half, using his shot to set up his face-up game. When the defense collapsed, he made the right passes. He was also fantastic defending on the perimeter, deflecting passes and mostly staying with guards. Metu even showed some feistiness, getting into it with Collins, which earned them both a technical. It was an impressive second pro game for the athletic big man.
- Jaron Blossomgame had 16 points and 10 rebounds, but he’s still one reliable offensive skill away from being a viable NBA player. He’s already a dogged defender who contributes on the boards. He might even be able to play power forward, as he proved on the first game in Utah. He just needs to either become a knockdown shooter or be more comfortable attacking the rim and passing. Right now he doesn’t do much outside of in transition and on cuts. But that’s what Summer League and the G-League are for. He’s definitely worth the investment as a two-way player.
- Amida Brimah and Corey Jefferson are further from being NBA ready than Blossomgame, but might get there eventually. Brimah (eight points, 11 rebounds) is just a workhorse around the rim and a good screener. He just doesn’t have the body control to be a lob threat on offense, which he needs to be since he can’t shoot. Jefferson (five points, four rebounds) looks the part of an NBA combo forward, but needs to develop his shooting. He had one pretty pick and pop three-pointer from the top of the arc against the Hawks. He’ll need to master that shot.
- Will Hardy is making Pop proud by calling early timeouts. If he sees something he doesn’t like, he’ll ask for time to talk it over with his guys, even if it comes after the first play of a quarter.
- Raphiael Putney continues to intrigue, thanks to his physical tools. Putney might prove to be too skinny to play power forward and too slow to play small forward in the NBA but his combination of length, athleticism on the open court and decent outside shooting is unique. It’s too bad he’s 28 years old, because if he were younger he’d be worth a closer look on a two-way contract.
- The other fringe guys did much better on their second Summer League game. Jeff Ledbetter showed off his range and playmaking ability, connecting on a three three-pointers and dishing out five assists. London Perrantes only played 11 minutes, but did a good job helping White organize the offense. Drew Eubanks continued to be productive, using his touch around the rim to get his eight points.
- The Hawks’ Trae Young, the fifth pick in the draft, had a Stephen Curry-esque pull-up from 30 feet go in. Other than that, he looked rather pedestrian. So did Omari Spellman, their other 2018 first round pick. Second year big man John Collins, on the other hand, was impressive. He has elite athleticism and solid footwork on offense. He could have a great sophomore year.
The Spurs will close their Utah Summer League participation by taking on the Grizzlies on July 5. The Metu vs. Jaren Jackson Jr. matchup should be entertaining.