The Detroit Pistons second game of the 2018 Summer League was infinitely more entertaining than the first one, which was a complete drubbing at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night. Saturday night, the Pistons fell to the Memphis Grizzlies, led by rookie Jaren Jackson Jr., Wayne Selden Jr. and second-year guard Kobi Simmons, 73-70. Memphis led most of the game, but never by more than nine.
Detroit had a chance to tie or take the lead twice with under 15 seconds to play, with a toe out-of-bounds by Larry Drew and a wild last attempt by Bruce Brown Jr. doing them in. The pace of play was faster this game and passing was more crisp as well - Baby steps for the team without Luke Kennard.
Here are some individual breakdowns.
Larry Drew II
Larry’s jumper was falling for him tonight as he drained three of five from deep en-route to 13 points to go along with five assists. Drew II struggled a bit with turnovers as he did in game one, but his overall play in this one isn’t really all that surprising — he has 22 regular appearances under his NBA belt. If he keeps this solid play up, he’ll surely get an invitation to training camp by the Pistons, or someone else. However, Drew II is 28 years old and tons of younger guards around the league are competing with him for a precious few roster spots. Or in the Pistons’ case, 36-year-old Jose Calderon is the main competition.
The box score from this game was much more accurate than the first game, yet it didn’t make a lick of difference for Henry’s shooting line. He was five-for-21 in this one, with mostly decent-to-good looks throughout. Henry’s shot still has lots of front rim contact, and although I heard from a commentator that he’s changed it a bit, it’s still not a very quiet shot. There’s a wind-up of sorts going on from his upper legs and waist all the way to the tip of his hands. A few positives for Henry was his unwavering intensity and confidence, and also some nice ball handling displays we’ve come to expect from him. Henry is clearly a skilled player, however, there’s no sign of any consistency in his game.
Tough luck with this Jackson Jr. block on Henry:
Bruce Brown Jr.
Bruce handled the ball up and down the court a bit more than the first game, and did it with relative ease and without many mistakes. His aggressiveness going towards to the basket is something the organization lacks. Brown is a great value player for a second round pick, and I’m excited to see his growth in the Pistons system and to see if his jump shot can develop.
Here’s a fine look at Bruce’s skill set leading the break:
Good shooting game from the rookie and an overall steady performance on both ends of the court. There were a few times that Kobi Simmons, a young, wild, but exceptionally quick player left Thomas standing all alone bewildered. He’ll see that on film and make some corrections so that it doesn’t become a habit.
Khyri’s shooting stroke, as advertised, is just about picture perfect - He’s a natural and calm shooter. Something to key in on down the road is if he can penetrate consistently and not just be content with being a perimeter threat only. We might not see it much this season for him with the big club, but it’s probably on the docket for the Pistons skill development guys to start to improve and develop.
Here’s an example of some playmaking from Khyri:
If you read my 2018 Pistons Summer League primer, you know that I’m really rooting for forward Eric Griffin, and it’s not just because he’s a pretty good basketball player who plays above the rim and has a unique all-around game for a big guy. Anyway, Griffin is quite athletic, active, and skilled — and mostly good things have happened when he’s on the floor these first two games (check out this dunk). Last season he was on a two-way deal with the Utah Jazz before losing it to another player, so there might be interest from a team to have Griffin as a third or fourth big off the bench.
However, Griffin only played eight minutes against Memphis while the less mobile and less talented Nnanna Egwu played 20 minutes. It’s puzzling minutes allocation to say the least — but only a degenerate such as myself would bring this beef up during Summer League ball.
As I hinted at in the Summer League primer, Lofton is already cutting in to Reggie Hearn’s minutes just a bit. Lofton played 12 minutes in this one while Hearn played only eight. Lofton has quickness and ball handling ability that Hearn just doesn’t, and that’s a key reason I’m more intrigued with his game over Hearn’s game. Lofton is a player I’d expect to end up on the Grand Rapids Drive for the big club to keep an eye on. Bad news right now though, as Lofton was injured in the fourth quarter and had to exit the game.
The Pistons’ next summer league game is July 9 at 3 p.m. EST against the Pelicans.