Summer School: Game 1 grades

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BOX SCORE

The Thunder lost to the Celtics 71-65 in game one of their Orlando Summer League trip. As is always necessary, here’s your standard Summer League disclaimer: Don’t get too excited about anything and certainly don’t overreact and get too disappointed with anything. It’s Summer League basketball. It doesn’t matter other than the hope some young guys get better and the players involved are playing in much, much different roles than they would be with the Thunder in a regular setting.

Lucky for us, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden or Serge Ibaka are still, in fact, on the team and it’s not centered around Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward.

Oklahoma City sent four roster players to Orlando — Reggie Jackson, Hayward, Aldrich and Perry Jones III. Let’s grade their performances in the first game of the week.

Reggie Jackson: B
He started the game incredibly out of control and looked to be uncomfortable in a feature role. He forced passes, tried too hard to take over and show off his ability. Once he settled into the game, he played pretty well, attacking the rim and using his athleticism to finish. He ended with 19 points on 15 shots, but only had two assists to four turnovers. The ball often stalled a bit when Jackson ran point and at times unless he was making extremely decisive plays, he didn’t appear to know how to attack the defense.

However, at times, it was clear Jackson was a level above other players on the floor. I think more than anything with him it’s about feeling the pace and flow of a game, finding confidence and comfort and then just being himself.

Perry Jones: A-
Early on, he looked a bit unsure, but once he settled in to the flow of the game, Jones showed off what complete skillset he has. He handled the ball on fastbreaks, rebounded well, defending both Jared Sullinger in the post and JaJuan Johnson on the perimeter, hit face-up jumpers, knocked down a 3 and even took the ball into the paint.

Now, it’s waaaaaaaaaay too early to make any significant determinations after 29 minutes of summer league ball. After Jones hit a few shots, I had multiple people asking on Twitter if he was destined for big minutes this season. I wouldn’t say that at all, but it’s definitely clear that he can play. One thing I didn’t realize was how impressive his size is. He’s a legit 6-11 with a ton of length and he’s actually pretty built. Some have pegged him as a skinny guy that needs to add weight, but he looked like a pretty stout guy to me. One play in particular showed it: Late in the fourth he took the ball hard on the baseline and completely knocked his defender off him with a shoulder after a jumpstop. He played with a little physicality and toughness to him.

In terms of how he fits in with the existing roster is unknown, but Jones can absolutely play. He’s got a bunch of ability and a whole lot of potential.

Cole Aldrich: D
It was a pretty disappointing first game for Aldrich. If he’s to be OKC’s new backup big, he didn’t do much to instill new confidence for folks. He finished with one point and seven rebounds in 31 minutes, but looked mostly lost. He fumbled passes, was in the way a lot on the offensive end and wasn’t a force on the glass at all.

Now, like I said with Jones, it’s one game in summer league. This was a game featuring Aldrich as a starting center, not one where he’s playing 8-10 spot minutes with Eric Maynor or James Harden setting him up. Aldrich has a lot more responsibility on his plate than he’s used to in this game and just didn’t perform.

Lazar Hayward: C
I really kind of like Hayward. He’s presents himself as a completely professional player with a really mature demeanor and quality attitude. But boy, even in a game where he scores 18 points with nine rebounds, he’s largely forgettable. He started the game 0-of-7 from the floor and finished 4-14, but did hit 9-9 from the free throw line. Hayward is unlikely to ever be a real contributor, but he plays hard and is capable of making an open shot when he gets it. As you might expect, nothing ground-breaking from him today.

A few other notes:

  • Hasheem Thabeet was in attendance along with Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook. Which means there’s a chance Thabeet could appear for the Thunder on Wednesday once he officially inks his two-year deal with OKC.
  • Latavious Williams did not play today because of some issue in getting FIBA clearance. He’s expected to play on Tuesday.
  • Again, that 15th roster spot is open and one play that might be getting a long look is Garrett Temple. He’s bounced around the league a bit in his two years and might be worth a minimum deal to fill out the team.
  • Andy Rautins was on the OKC bench wearing Thunder stuff.

Next up: Game 2 Tuesday at noon CT against Indiana.

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