Ring count: Jeremy Lamb 1, James Harden 0. WHAT’S UP NOW. The Thunder are your first ever Orlando Summer League champions as they held off the Houston Rockets 298-291 (ballpark numbers) to take home the title.
Five thoughts from the final game:
- Daniel Orton has earned another season in my books. If the Thunder need to waive someone for a roster spot or tax purposes, I hope it’s not him. I think it’s clear that he’s experiencing the best health of his young basketball career and with some budding confidence, there’s a legit basketball player inside of him somewhere. His combination of size, speed, strength, athleticism and perfect running form make him an extremely intriguing young big man. Anyone can look great dunking, but as a roll man Orton has really nice hands — how about that one handed snag on a bullet pass from Liggins? — and uses his body well to finish. I was even more impressed by his pick-and-roll defense, though. Good stance, active feet, solid discipline, nice instincts. Will it translate to an NBA game? That’s obviously unknown, but based on what I’ve seen from Orton so far in OKC, this is as good as he’s looked.
- One extra on Orton: I think he’s got some developing offensive skill — that baseline fadeaway actually seems to be a shot he’s working on, and it looks pretty good — but on the block, he’s got a ways to go. When he gets in the post he gives up his shot too easily. Meaning, he alters his hook at any contest. With his size, Orton needs to be bulldozing guys. He can’t hit them with a shoulder, drop-step and then alter and clutch his hook when the defender challenges him. He’s got to elevate and go straight up with it. STRONG.
- Jeremy Lamb had some moments today, but he was mostly inconsistent. He finished with 18 points on 6-18 shooting, but did get his turnovers under control, giving it away only twice. And that was with him handling the ball a whole lot again. He attacked the bucket more than fire jumpers, but I think he’s got the habit of taking one or two too many dribbles and getting into taller defenders, thus having to take a tough, contested runner over a big man rather than planting and popping a jumper from a few steps deeper. It’s great to attack the rim, but that no man’s land between jumper and going at the rim is dangerous. It’s tough to control those shots, especially when you’re taking contact and having to hoist them over guys 6-11.
- I understand why you sit Reggie Jackson today, but it’s a little bit of a bummer that him and Lamb never played together this week. Maybe that was by design so that each could play a bit more unfettered. Still, especially in Lamb’s case, it would’ve been nice for them to develop a little more feel and chemistry. Because apparently, they’re going to be the Thunder’s bench this season.
- Decent game from Steven Adams to cap a better-than-expected week — 10 points, nine rebounds, one block — but I’ve got a little issue with his rebounding. Mostly on the offensive glass. All week I watched it intently, and it’s a trend: Adams doesn’t really elevate for rebounds. Most every one he tries to grab — especially on the offensive end — are flatfooted. He might be focusing on fundamentals like getting back and blocking out, but I just sort of had visions of him beasting on the offensive glass. Overall, though, I’m optimistic about him. I think Adams has the chance to be a special defender in the Marc Gasol-ish mold. Not necessarily a shot blocker or guy that catches your eye with big defensive plays, but more just a wall between the offense and the basket. He uses his big body really well and doesn’t reach. He moves his feet, stays down on shots and just stays disciplined. Comparing the way he plays against someone like, say, Cole Aldrich, is night and day. Aldrich crashed the boards and jumped wildly at every shot. Adams isn’t Cole Aldrich at all. I don’t know if he’s going to be better yet, but I do know that he’s a much different player.
A few leftovers:
- Grant Jerrett either needs a mustache or he needs to shave the beard. Can’t go halfway with that thing. That’s nonsense.
- Andre Roberson is a rebounding monster. So much length.
- Dwight Buycks is getting a multi-year deal with the Raptors. Good for him.
- This one’s on the house: Perfect gag gift for your friends: An Orlando Summer League champions hat. You’re welcome.
- I figured the reason the Thunder were holding Reggie Jackson out today was because they’re playing the Rockets and were worried about Patrick Beverley taking out another OKC point guard. But then Beverley didn’t play either.
- I really hope Jeremy Lamb’s hair is just a summer thing.