The Summer Clippers are finally getting their Las Vegas campaign underway in at the end of Saturday night’s slate, tipping off at 9:30pm Eastern Time (6:30 Pacific) in Cox Pavillion, the small gym at the NBA’s summer league site at UNLV. For those watching from home, the game will be broadcast on NBATV and should take 2 hours instead of the typical 2.5 hour NBA game–though in the last game of the night, there’s a decent chance it doesn’t start on time if games earlier in the day fall behind schedule.
The Summer Clippers will take on the Memphis Grizzlies, who are also making their Las Vegas debut in this game… but played three contests earlier in the week at the Salt Lake City Summer League, giving them some time to play together in an environment where teammates’ lack of familiarity with each other is typically evident. The Grizzlies defeated the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, and closed out with a win on Thursday against the Utah Jazz.
We won’t spend too much time scouting Summer League opponents, but Memphis has some real NBA talent on their team that will be a part of the Grizzlies’ young, exciting roster next season. Ziaire Williams, the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft, was a rotation player for the Grizzlies last year and is the star of this iteration of the Summer Grizzlies, averaging 17 points and 5 assists in his 2 appearances in Salt Lake City. He has a guaranteed contract and appears to be a significant part of Memphis’ plans going forward. Xavier Tillman, who we all remember as the guy who the Clippers passed on to take Daniel Oturu in the 2020 NBA Draft, returns to Summer League as a third-year player, which is typically an indicator that the team views him as a fringe player. He’s been productive in a limited role and also already has a guaranteed deal for next year. The last returning Grizzly is Santi Aldama, the 30th overall pick in 2021 who played sparingly last year.
Memphis’ team also features first round draft picks from this season, Jake LaRavia (19th) and David Roddy (23rd), as well as 38th overall pick Kennedy Chandler, who all figure to be on the 15-man roster next season. In addition, 43rd overall pick Vince Williams Jr. and undrafted free agent Kenneth Lofton Jr. seem set to be the team’s two-way players next year. In total, that’s likely 8 of the 17 members of the 2022-23 Memphis Grizzlies on this summer team, compared to just 4 for the Summer Clippers, and four first round picks compared to zero.
All of that talent makes for an exciting challenge for the Clippers’ prospects, especially Brandon Boston Jr., who went 51st overall in the 2021 NBA Draft and will have a chance to go head-to-head with Williams, the 10th pick in the same draft. Moussa Diabate will also face a challenge down low against a proven NBA player in Tillman and a more highly touted prospect in Aldama. Jason Preston, the 33rd pick in 2021, won’t have the same David-vs-Goliath matchup from a draft pick perspective, but will go against another point guard taken in the 30s in Chandler and have a chance to put himself back on the radar after missing his entire rookie season following foot surgery.
Clippers fans will also want to keep an eye on Michael DeVoe, Lucas Williamson, and Justin Bean, three undrafted free agents who the team signed to Exhibit 10 contracts. Those three guys are essentially competing for one two-way contract next season, and while this will be our first look at them, the competition kicked off as soon as they showed up to their first Summer League practice. DeVoe and Williamson are both shooting guards and should see plenty of time on the wing, with one of them the likely starter between Preston at point guard and Boston at small forward, while Bean is a slightly undersized (6’7″) and drastically overaged (25) power forward who should start at power forward and have a real opportunity to prove himself. Without the same claim to age-related upside (Bean is already older than Ivica Zubac and Amir Coffey, while just months younger than Luke Kennard and Terance Mann), Bean will have a higher standard to prove he can contribute at this level now, and the Grizzlies’ lineup is stacked with NBA forwards to test himself against. Diabate should round out the Summer Clippers’ starting lineup at center.
Former Clippers Xavier Moon and Jay Scrubb also figure to play roles, though neither seems likely at this time to be on the team’s opening night roster or even in training camp. According to his RealGM page, this will be Moon’s first Summer League despite playing well in college at Morehead State and being a three-time Canadian Elite Basketball League Player Of The Year and two-time Canadian Elite Basketball League Finals MVP. He has excelled as a floor general in the NBA G-League and Canada, but is limited as an NBA player due to his size and got his first NBA chance last season at 27 years old. He likely isn’t a piece going forward for LAC, with the team more invested in Preston’s development, but I think he should be a very capable backup point guard for Summer League purposes. Scrubb, who was the 55th overall pick in 2020 but has scarcely played at the NBA or G-League level due to injuries despite spending two seasons on a two-way contract with the Clippers. He led them in scoring in their Summer League opener last year with 24 points but struggled overall, averaging 11.6 points on a dreadful 31.8% from the field.