Both teams come into the match up fresh off of a win. The Lakers have had all three of their games (2-1 overall) finish within single digits, winning two of the three by a combined three points. Not bad for a team that doesn’t have a feature name on the Summer League Roster.
The Pistons have had two of their three games decided by by single digits, but for those who watched the games, they know that doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. The Pistons have jumped out to double digit leads in all three games so far, but have been plagued by inconsistent play in quarters 2-4.
Despite the inconsistencies, we’ve seen some progressively good things from the players that matter the most for the Pistons. Killian Hayes has been much more assertive, even hitting this nice crossover stepback in transition last night against the New York Knicks. Killian’s defense and passing have been solid throughout Summer League. If he can shoot until his clip is empty, like fellow guard Cade Cunningham, the Pistons are going to to have a menacing two-way backcourt.
Speaking of Cade, he leveled up last night in Las Vegas.
He hit seven threes, including that beauty against the Knicks’ Aamir Simms. As nice as his offense and defensive performance was, it would be even nicer if we could see him get to the free throw line a bit more than he has through three games. (He’s only taken two attempts so far).
Saddiq Bey has shown an expanded offensive repertoire, most notably inside the three-point line. Unfortunately, it’s not been very fun to watch. Many of his shots are coming up short. He is shooting a pedestrian 42% from the floor, and he’s been surprisingly worse from behind the arc, where he is shooting 29%. You have to wonder if his legs aren’t a little fatigued from the work he put in with Team USA this summer. Still, he did have what was probably the most clutch play of the game against the Knicks last night when he got UP to block Immanuel Quickley late in the fourth quarter.
Outside of the big three, Luka Garza has probably been the most consistent player in Summer League for the Pistons. He worked his way into the starting lineup last game and nothing he did on the court should change that tonight against the Lakers. There’s still concerns about his ability to move laterally, but he’s shown to be a strong shooter, solid rebounder, and smart defender for the Pistons. The passion he plays with is also incredibly fun to watch. If you were just tuning in, you’d think Garza just hit a game winner after one of his shots goes down. Every bucket he hits is followed by an emotionally charged flex, which his teammates appear to love.
The last name we probably need to talk about is Jamorko Pickett. Pickett found his way into big minutes last night and he did not disappoint, scoring 13 of his 18 in the first quarter alone. He’s got a nice offensive game and it will be interesting to see if he can repeat that performance a second time.
Tonight marks the Pistons first back-to-back Summer League game. What that means is we could see a change to coach J.D. DuBois’ rotation, including Cade’s minutes. Recall, Cade hadn’t played 5-on-5 since the college season ended. Don’t be surprised if we see more minutes from players who didn’t make this article.