The Summer Clippers handily defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in their first contest in the Las Vegas Summer League tonight, 94-76. LA took control early on and never relinquished it, leading by as much as 27 in the second half as the Grizzlies failed to ever make the contest competitive.

I typically write very brief, bullet-point Summer League recaps that focus on the performances of key individuals, and I’m going to stay true to that in a moment, but I do think it’s worth nothing that this Clippers squad played exceptionally well as a team by Summer League standards. Things slipped a bit as they rotated the lineup more heavily in the second half with a massive lead, but in the first half their offensive execution was massively impressive, and I’d share credit for that among point guards Jason Preston and Xavier Moon as well as head coach Shaun Fein. Summer League is infamous for atrocious guard play, and having two composed floor generals actually running the offense simply put the Clippers a class above the Grizzlies–which is especially impressive when you consider that Memphis started a rookie first rounder and two sophomore first round picks along with a third-year player with plenty of NBA experience, and brought another first-round pick off the bench. In total, the 8 players who led the Grizzlies in minutes tonight are all assumed to have spots on the team’s 17-man roster next year, and the Clippers’ misfit crew thrashed them.

If you aren’t familiar with the name Shaun Fein, here you go: he got his start as a video analyst for the Brooklyn Nets under Kenny Atkinson, eventually moving up to the position of Player Development Coordinator and then Head Coach of the Nets’ G-League affiliate in Long Island. The Nets replaced Atkinson in the 2020 off-season to bring in Steve Nash as the hand-picked choice of superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and the Clippers made the much-acclaimed hire to bring Atkinson in as an Assistant Coach under Ty Lue to revitalize the franchise’s player development program. Fein followed Atkinson to Los Angeles as a Player Development Coach, and then stayed with the team with a promotion to Assistant Coach when Atkinson left to join Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State last summer. NBA teams have a lot of coaches and fans are typically only aware of the head coach and maybe a few high-profile assistants; welcome to the limelight, Shaun.

Now, let’s break down how key Clipper prospects performed in the opener:

  • Jason Preston was the best player on the floor in the first quarter, playing floor general as the Clippers took an early lead. It felt like every possession involved him orchestrating the offense, and every possession ended with a good shot. He faded a bit as the game went on–possibly in part due to other guys getting more on-ball reps in a blowout–but if he can bottle the poise and comfort he showed in the first half and bring in the rest of the week, he’ll have really impressed me. His known weaknesses are still weaknesses: he isn’t explosive going downhill or finishing around the rim. That said, if his key strength (court vision and passing) can be elite at this level and his question marks (defense and spot-up shooting) look good as well, it’ll be a great sign.
  • Brandon Boston had a solid performance and a good stat line, putting up 15 points on 4-8 shooting to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and a block. If this is his baseline Summer League performance, it’s good-not-great. Some folks had hoped he’d be “too good for Summer League,” which was a nice dream, but the reality is that as a guy without a clear role on the big league Clippers, this week was always going to be about getting him reps. I would love to see him be a little stronger physically entering the lane with the ball in his hands, either as a finisher or playmaker, so he doesn’t have to take so many stepback and fadeaway shots.
  • Moussa Diabate was probably the player of the game overall (though Preston did more of his work early on when the game was close), really excelling defensively and on the offensive glass. I was worried he’d have some phsyical challenges against the stronger Xavier Tillman, a guy who was a higher draft pick 2 years ago, is 3 years older, and has over 1,700 NBA minutes under his belt–that didn’t materialize. Diabate finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds, 6 of them offensive, and had a spin move to a monster dunk that was probably the play of the game. In addition to his tenacious activity on the offensive glass, he was really efective on defensive switches against guards, which is a great sign because that is the skill that will probably define his NBA utility as a backup 4/5. I love that he got 9 free throw attempts (his game high at Michigan was 7), but wish he had made more than 4 of them.
  • Xavier Moon, operating on the good news that he had been invited to the Clippers’ big league training camp this fall, had a simply very solid game as the backup point guard. It’s not surprising, given his advanced age for this level and his experience dominating lower pro leagues, but he’s a real asset to these Summer Clippers. The question is what utility he has to the real Clippers after the addition of John Wall, with younger Jason Preston already on a guaranteed contract for next year… and the unfortunate conclusion is that while Moon certainly seems capable of making an NBA roster, it feels unlikely that it will be LAC’s.
  • Jarrell Brantley was a surprise starter at power forward (I personally thought we’d see Justin Bean, who the Clippers had signed to an Exhibit 10 deal as an undrafted free agent). The undersized 26-year-old forward was a second round pick in 2019 and played a couple hundred minutes of NBA garbage time before heading to Europe as a role player last year. He had a nice outing here and shot 3-6 from deep, but he only made 26% of his threes in 48 games overseas last season and 31% of his threes in 43 career G-League games. I’m happy that he got to have a nice outing tonight but I wouldn’t pencil him in to any future plans just yet.
  • Reggie Perry jumped off the screen more than any other non-roster Summer Clipper, finishing with a team-high 17 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes. As a 22-year-old 6’8″ 4/5, he was drafted 57th (just after Jay Scrubb, the Clippers and Nets actually traded the two for each other) in 2020 and has almost 400 NBA minutes to his name. He played well all-around offensively and even stepped out to make a couple of threes (he’s been a below-average shooter at the G-League level but is willing to take plenty). He still has an uphill battle to even make the Clippers’ training camp, but because he plays a position of need as a big man and seems to be on the fringe of landing a two-way deal somewhere next year, he seems like a candidate to move forward with the team if he can play well for the rest of the week. I’d like to see a bit of him and Diabate together, as well.
  • Jay Scrubb doesn’t seem to have made a lot of progress since last summer, and his game mostly seems to be taking inefficient pull-up jumpers with blinders on while occassionally putting together a mixtape highlight. That happened tonight, with a filthy stepback three that would make any highlight reel for this game, but outside of that moment he was just 3-10 from the field and made a lot of poor decisions with the basketball when he should have been passing. The Clippers invited him back to training camp this year and while it wouldn’t be a travesty to have him on a two-way deal again (he averaged 21 points on 46/35 splits in 12 G-League games last year, which outweighs some ugly Summer League play), this performance didn’t do a lot to inspire confidence that he’s an NBA guy going forward.
  • Michael DeVoe, one of the undrafted free agents who the Clippers signed to an exhibit 10 contract to compete for a two-way spot for next season, played sparingly as the 10th man in this game and was pretty dreadful. I frequently tell fans to chill on the hyperbole when someone does well in a Summer League game and I’ll do the opposite here and say that it’s not a career death sentence for a player to struggle in a LVSL game–plenty of much higher-profile prospects have bad outings and turn out just fine. But tonight, he looked like a guy who didn’t belong at this level, which is troubling since this is about 7 levels below NBA-caliber play. He’ll have to turn it around in the upcoming contests or he might not even make it to training camp.
  • Speaking of which, Lucas Williamson and Justin Bean, the other two undrafted free agents who the Clippers signed to exhibit 10 deals after the draft, were only garbage time bodies in tonight’s game. Now, it’s really common for teams to rotate guys throughout Summer League, with most players taking a night off at some point and everyone getting a chance for legit rotation minutes for at least one game. But normally the guys the organization is highest on play in the opener, and normally they start. Right now, the Clippers have 21 guys on the training camp list (Moussa Diabate is technically unsigned, allowing them to still abide by the 20-player off-season limit, but he’ll be replacing one of the current 20). Adding Xavier Moon and Jay Scrubb late is a bad omen for the team’s three exhibit 10 guys, especially when Scrubb started at shooting guard over DeVoe and Williamson (both shooting guards) and Bean scarcely played behind multiple forward without camp invites. For reference, Amir Coffey started the Clippers’ Summer League opener as an exhibit 10 rookie and, while he took one night off, ultimately started all four games that he played in and led the team in minutes per game. That’s a guy who showed up to Summer League mini-camp and showed the team that he belonged with the big club in the fall. It doesn’t look like Devoe, Williamson, or Bean have proven that at this point.

All in all, it was a very successful outing for the Summer Clippers, who are now 1-0 and will look to their Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets to determine if they have a chance at competing for this year’s Summer League Championship. Each of the NBA’s 30 teams plays 4 games (LAC’s fourth is Friday afternoon against the Utah Jazz), with 28 playing a final consolation game on the last weekend and the top 2 competing for the title next Sunday. Top two is obviously decided first and foremost by record, so you need to go 3-1 in your first 4 to even have a chance and even 4-0 isn’t guaranteed if more than 2 teams go undefeated. Then, it goes by head-to-head record as the first tiebreaker (only in the case of a two-way tie, which is basically irrelevant as a two-way tie at 4-0 would put both teams in the championship and if 1 or 0 teams are 4-0, way more than 2 teams will be 3-1) and point differential as the second tiebreaker, so the Clippers’ 18-point win is a good sign. With everyone in the league having played at least one game in Vegas, only the Suns and Raptors are ahead of LAC on point differential, narrowly at +20. Only two teams, Orlando and Detroit, are 2-0 so far.

We’ll see the Summer Clippers again on Tuesday night at 8pm Pacific when they take on the Summer Lakers on NBATV in the big gym at LVSL, the Thomas & Mack Center.

213Hoops is an independently owned and operated L.A. Clippers blog by Clippers fans, for Clippers fans. If you enjoy our content, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. Subscriptions start at $1 a month and support from readers like you goes a long way towards helping us keep 213Hoops sustainable, growing, and thriving.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

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