When it comes to Summer League, always remember three simple rules and you’re set:
1) It doesn’t matter
2) Don’t get carried away with anything, either good or bad
3) Just enjoy watching some basketball, despite it often being horrific and unwatchable
Perry Jones not playing.
The Thunder take a pretty intriguing team to Orlando for a week, though. Perry Jones was a late scratch (replaced by Ryan Reid), but with Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, DeAndre Liggins and rookies Steven Adams and Andre Roberson, there’s definitely some curiosity to see what these guys are about right now.
So here are 10 things to watch for the Thunder’s Summer League:
1. All eyes on Jeremy Lamb. With the Thunder’s resistance to do anything in free agency, it’s becoming more and more apparent that not only will Lamb have a role next season, but he may have a prominent one. Lamb ripped apart the D-League last season, and Summer League should be a similar environment. The key is for him not to press and try to do too much to prove something. He has major offensive talent and while he’s still a work in progress, the guy can play. Question is, can he defend, can he fit, can he play a role without trying to be a star.
2. Steven Adams: Anything other than raw? Excluding YouTube mixes, this will probably be a lot of Thunder fans’ first look at what Adams can do. You’re going to see a physically and athletically impressive specimen that has little to no offensive basketball skill. He dunks. And he can feather in an open look in the lane. But that’s mostly it. He’s high energy and can be a special defender. But if you’re excited to see him getting post touches and going to work on the block, I’d advise canning those expectations.
3. Reggie Jackson. Jackson is too good for Summer League, but I definitely appreciate him going. He’s going to be huge in getting the Thunder into some decent sets and running some decent offense. And as OKC’s very likely sixth man for next season, it’ll be good for him to kind of go through a few dress rehearsals with Lamb in those roles. I wouldn’t expect Jackson to play a lot, or even all five games. But he’s still a young, improving player that’s headed for a much bigger role next season. He needs more seasoning, and he knows it — he’s the one who wanted to go to Orlando.
4. DeAndre Liggins’ shooting. The biggest thing holding Liggins back from being a potential rotation player is his offensive skill. He needs to perfect one area of his game whether that’s cutting and finishing or knocking down open looks. Seeing as a 3-and-D guy is one of the best roles to fill in the league, Liggins needs to focus in on perfecting that outside shot.
5. What can Andre Roberson do? I’m pretty curious to see what the 6-7 swingman from Colorado is capable of. He’s a crazy impressive athlete and he plays with a tremendous motor, especially on the offensive glass. But can he make a jumper? Can he participate in an effective pick-and-roll? Can he handle? I don’t know much about him, outside of advanced stat loving his game in college. It’ll be nice to get a look.
6. Who is Grant Jerrett and should we care? The Thunder spent some cash to pick Jerrett up in the second round. I wouldn’t expect him to get a contract, but I’ll be honest: I don’t know hardly anything about him. He didn’t put up numbers at Arizona and he’s a guy with upside. Will he play much? What does he do? Can he shoot? What does he actually look like? I’d like to know.
7. Is Daniel Orton playing for his job? The Thunder have 14 players under contract for next season not including Jerrett who probably won’t be signed. But if they’re to sign more than one free agent, or they’re trying to avoid bumping up against the luxury tax, waiving Orton and his non-guaranteed contract is a pretty simple fix. Orton didn’t have much opportunity last season, but there is something interesting about his size and athleticism. Does he need a solid week to still keep the Thunder interested, though?
8. The sleeves. Gross. But for a good cause.
9. Any of the non-Thunder guys have a chance? No, but it’s nice to see the Thunder are keeping with the tradition of having Dwight Buycks on their Summer League team.
10. One more reminder: Do NOT get too caught up in what happens in Summer League. Enjoy it, take it in, make a few notes about what players do and don’t do, but avoid any grand proclamations about anything. And that includes other players on other teams too. If Kelly Olynyk kills it, don’t yell, “The Thunder messed up!” It’s July in the NBA. Remember that.