Saturday in Orlando the 2016 NBA Summer League tipped off and our Pistons defeated a cold-shooting Knicks team, 81-49.
The box score is here. Game highlights and further recap below:
NBA Summer League 2016: Top Takeaways from July 2 in Orlando -- BR
Some strong words for a strong young man:
Stanley Johnson has the confidence of an NBA superstar. He couldn't call out LeBron James without it. Johnson has a superstar's build, too—6'7" with a sculpted 245-pound frame and near-7-foot wingspan. Those are measurements hoops scientists use for lab-created wings.
What Johnson doesn't have yet are superstar skills. He was a volume offensive contributor as a rookie (8.1 points on 37.5 percent shooting) and had a similar stat line Saturday (15 points on 5-of-13 shooting, 1-of-6 from three).
But beneath those numbers were flashes of superstar potential.
Already a tenacious defender, he displayed some of the offensive growth the Detroit Pistons have been waiting to see. Johnson has spent the early part of his summer developing specific skills—namely, shoring up his left hand and three-point form.
Give Johnson ambidextrous handles or a reliable jumper, and he's a prime offensive option. Give him both, and he's a franchise talent.
"Last year, I felt like I was in elementary school," Johnson said, per Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy. "Now, I feel like a senior in high school."
More growth is needed, and neither Johnson nor the Pistons were tested much during their 81-49 drubbing of the New York Knicks. But Johnson faces an upward trajectory, as does Detroit, which saw its 6'11" first-round pick Henry Ellenson post 12 points, eight rebounds and a pair of threes in 26 minutes.
Detroit Pistons' Stanley Johnson shows comfort level in summer debut -- Detroit Free Press
He is working on a higher release point for his jump shot, which would enable him to get his shot off against close defenders.
The second-year pro has gotten this far with more of a push shot.
"On the threes, the only one I did right was the one I made," Johnson said. "Jump shooting is repetition. I went from a jump shot that I used to shoot, and I changed it a couple months ago, so it's gonna take some time. ..."
Key players all show their best traits as Pistons romp in Summer League opener -- Pistons.com
Lorenzo Brown has a non-guaranteed contract for next season, but the 2013 second-round pick out of North Carolina State made an impression. If the Pistons decide transitioning to point guard would be too daunting for Gbinije as a rookie and look for a veteran to be the No.3 point, Brown's size and versatility will make him a strong candidate to be at the head of the line.
"I feel like I've been at this for a while now and I feel it's around that time that I stick somewhere," Brown said after a 12-point outing on 6 of 10 shooting. "I'm here to show what I can do a little bit."
Saturday's free agency winners and losers -- CBS Sports
Anthony Tolliver and another former Piston, Arron Afflalo, are perhaps just the beginning of smarter things happening in Sacramento.
Winner: Sacramento Kings
Is it possible, just maybe, that the era of stupid is over in Sactown?
The Kings inked just two deals Saturday. They paid $25 million to Arron Afflalo over two years, getting the kind of veteran two-guard they've wanted for some time. Afflalo hasn't been good defensively in over three seasons but is a big, athletic two-guard who can score in a multitude of ways efficiently. For a short-term deal under $15 million per year? That's really good value.
Then they added Anthony Tolliver, a total vet who can hit from range and did so on a two year deal at around $8 million per season.
The Kings didn't overextend themselves or give up assets for pipe dreams of a big-name signing. They just found smart opportunities to add quality players, in a very un-Kings-like way.
The Orlando Magic, to put it lightly, have done damage (not sure if good or bad) to their roster this off-season.
Winner: Orlando Magic
The Magic finally had a good day, as landing Bismack Biyombo for four years and $72 million comes with sticker shock but was also market value. Pairing Biyombo with with Serge Ibaka means that Orlando is likely to have a top-five defense next year. They cleared cap space and presumably their big target was not Biyombo, but between Ibaka and Biz, they have created a fearsome interior duo.
They can figure out Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic's role in all this later. That's still a dominant rim protection duo that will have guards petrified.
Orlando Continued Its Quest To Start Four Bigs With Bismack Biyombo Apparently Coming Aboard -- Dime Mag
About that damage:
As previously mentioned, this is an interesting signing for the Magic, because they acquired Ibaka and already have Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon on their roster. You would probably think that this means that the team probably views Gordon as a three right now, which is interesting, because Orlando signed Jeff Green to a one-year deal on Friday.
Every time the author writes 'interesting', I actually read it like 'remarkably, remarkably strange'. But probably nothing too strange about all this -- it just means Vucevic is gone before the season starts. That's not bad news for Orlando, as Vucevic, although a talented offensive weapon, wasn't going to be leading them to any playoff series victories anyway.
Regardless, while the rest of the league is trying to get smaller and faster, Orlando is taking a different approach under new coach Frank Vogel. The Magic have some really serious questions right now about how they'll space the floor and keep things from getting clogged up in the paint (remember, it's still smart for opposing points to go under the screen while guarding starting point guard Elfrid Payton), but this might be a nasty team defensively.
If you're into teams that will turn games into rock fights for 48 minutes, you'll love the 2016-17 Orlando Magic.
Five numbers and a list to get you excited about Ish Smith -- DBB FanPost
In case you didn't see it from a couple days prior, DBB regular, NiceUnparticularMan, is a bit amped about the Ish Smith signing and put together a decent FanPost:
And there really isn't anyone in the league better at understanding what is a good 3P shot, and how to get them, than SVG.
On top of that, we know the Pistons have a very thorough scouting operation for other NBA players. So, when SVG made a point of getting Jackson, and it was widely questioned how an apparently poor 3P shooter like Jackson could fit his system, I think SVG knew better--he knew that he could get Jackson good shots and that he would make them at an acceptable rate. Same thing when he grabbed Harris--recall many thought losing Ilyasova's shooting would hurt the Pistons in the short run, but I suspect SVG had good reason to hope not once Harris was playing in his system.
OK, so now SVG has made a point at getting Smith, and I don't think that is because SVG has abandoned the importance of decent 3P shooting in his PGs. Rather, I strongly suspect it is because he and his staff have thoroughly evaluated Smith's shooting, and determined it is likely he will be an acceptable 3P shooter in SVG's system.
And our Ben Quagliata put in some quick and solid work (in helping distract him from the realization his Aussie home boy Matthew Dellavedova wouldn't be coming to Detroit, no doubt), covering the Ish Smith signing in writing 3 ways Ish will help Detroit and why Ish is not the right fit for Detroit. If you didn't get to them before, get to them now.
I said something reasonable for a change (besides reminding readers to eat vegetables)
Keeping on the Ish Smith train for a second, way back on a May 20th links post I wrote:
lt has been mentioned before in DBB comments that Ish Smith would look pretty stellar in a Detroit uni. He would. He's quick as a bean (the quick beans) and has developed a respectable long range shot. After bouncing around the league and then last season seemingly being a steadying force for the Sixers (if that's even possible on a 10-win NBA team), he's really prime for a nice contract -- say, three years in Detroit?
Hope everyone's July Fourth weekend was safe and joyous.