Day three of the Orlando Summer League has come to a close, and the Pistons lost a tight game in the final minutes against Oklahoma City. Reggie Jackson single-handedly carried the Thunder, setting an Orlando Summer League record with 35 points on just 19 shots. Before Jackson's hot hand really lit up in the second half, I had a chance to meet him early in the first quarter. Or, rather, he met my photo gear and I when he dove into the baseline and landed on my lap. My forearm is still a little sore...
Orlando Summer League Day Three Diary
Today was all business in Orlando. No longer star struck (okay, maybe a little), I had a chance to focus on the game and study the players. Rasheed was in the building for his second game as assistant coach, Greg Monroe was there, faithfully cheering on his team and joining huddles during time-outs. With Slava Kravtsov out for the game, Andre Drummond would again dress and start in the middle for Detroit.
Despite playing 35 minutes, Drummond had a relatively quiet game against lesser competition. Drummond faced off with Steven Adams, the #12 pick in the 2013 draft, and it looked like Andre was going to have it easy for game three. Despite his double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, Dre was silent on the blocks and he added only one steal. This is just a theory, but I wouldn't be surprised if Dre wasn't prepared for game three, like the news that Slava was out arrived shortly before the game.
Still, there was no reason to complain about Dre tonight. I picked up something else about Dre in this game that I hadn't noticed before. He's chippy -- beyond his sheer size, strength and mobility, he's a total pest. He repeatedly slapped Steven Adams on the wrist, gave him a shove when the refs weren't looking, he totally harassed the guy even when the ball wasn't in play. Imagine you have to defend one of the most intimidating physical bodies in the league, and on top of it all, he's totally messing with you and getting under your skin in the process. He seems so quiet, so reserved on the court, but when I started seeing this, it was quite a surprise -- and a welcome one.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was on for this game, at least for the first few quarters. Pope's shots were falling and they fell in succession. He attempted 10 shots from outside and just three inside the perimeter. KCP appears to favor the corner, and he gets there pretty quickly and shouts to his teammates with a weird, quickly repeated "hoodie hoo!" type of sound. Listen for it when you watch him, it sounds like some sort of angry owl. It's effective though, as the ball handlers know where he is and when to feed him the ball.
I was a bit confused toward the end of the game when I didn't see KCP defend Reggie Jackson. Detroit placed English on Jackson for pretty much all of the fourth quarter. I may have missed a rotation or I could be just plain wrong, but I don't recall seeing Detroit try KCP on Jackson. So why, then, try Kim English? I don't doubt English's reputation at defense, but it almost seemed like KCP wasn't even considered. Point being, I had been watching to see some nice defensive plays from KCP so far in this summer league, and today would have been a great time to try them.
English ... I get the feeling he's not going to be around much longer. Detroit has 16 players on the roster as of today, and the team has yet to exercise its option for the next year of Kim's contract. They have until Saturday to make that decision, and Orlando Summer League ends Friday. He's not doing himself any favors, as he's been horrible on the offensive end and could do nothing to slow down Reggie Jackson Tuesday.
I don't fault Kim for not stopping Jackson, however. The guy was red hot, and I don't think anyone could have stopped him. Even Drummond moved out to the perimeter to try and bother Jackson, but it was useless. So very unfortunately for Kim, every set of eyes in the gym today watched him as the key defender on the guy who set a new OSL scoring record.
I have a feeling Friday will be his last game in a Pistons uniform. I also get the sense that Orlando GM Rob Hennigan will be calling him on Saturday. (And this is a baseless assumption, just a gut feeling.)
Peyton Siva, man, I love this kid. I imagine if I was watching Summer League for Brandon Knight's career debut, I'd feel the same way about him, though. Siva looks much better than the numbers he puts up, although the numbers are nothing to be sneezed at. In terms of ball handling, he's averaging a 3.75:1 assist to turnover ratio in Orlando. For the first two games, he deferred his offense to his teammates, a welcome sight for Pistons fans. Today, he showed that this isn't all he's got, as he scored 12 points on 10 shots. That's nothing to get excited about, per se, but a few of these were forced at the end of the game when Reggie Jackson was putting Detroit to bed.
In total, it was an unfortunate loss. Detroit had this one in the bag but Jackson's hero ball turned the tide. I departed after the game was done, heading out to beat rush hour traffic back to Tampa. On the way down the hallway out of the practice court, I did (literally) bump into Jerry Sloan. You know where I said I was no longer star struck at the beginning of this article? Yeah, that brought it right back.
I'm off tomorrow. Detroit returns on Thursday at 1:00 to play Jarvis Varnado and the Miami Heat. The playoffs will be on Friday, to be played at a time set by record. See you all on Thursday ...