Opportunity drought strikes: 5 takeaways from NBA Vegas Summer League Day 3

Jul 7, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) hangs from the rim as he slam dunks the ball against the Atlanta Hawks during an NBA Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada heat wave appears to be invading the Vegas Summer League, as playing opportunities slowly dry up for our Aussies on various fronts.

It’s too early to tell how things will go, but here are more thoughts on our men, in the aftermath of Vegas Summer League’s Day 3.

1. Jock Landale plays reduced role for Atlanta

After starting and playing 20 minutes with the Hawks in their Vegas opener, Landale was reduced to just eight minutes off the bench today against the Portland Trail Blazers.

He managed to score four points in his reduced court time, but grabbed only one rebound. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the rest of the week.

Atlanta chose to slide NBA contracted big man John Collins to the five after his 30 point outing yesterday. For Landale, it might be a case of making the most of whatever minutes he can get from here on out, in an attempt to catch the eye of NBA scouts.

2. Deng Adel and Xavier Cooks square off – sort of

The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors met at the Thomas and Mack Center on Monday morning. The Rockets were victorious with a 87-81 scoreline, though Deng Adel was not awarded any court time. His only two minutes of the tournament so far, came in the first quarter against Indiana on Saturday.

It was better news for Xavier Cooks however, as he saw his first Vegas minutes, playing seven minutes while knocking down his only shot attempt, dishing an assist, grabbing a rebound and also a steal.

For both Adel and Cooks, the opportunities will come few and far between in Vegas. But that’s ok, as long as they make the most of the opportunities they do get. Cooks did himself no harm today. Now, he needs to build on that.

3. Mitch Creek’s competitive edge is earning him minutes

Mitch Creek was able to build on his 11 minutes in the Dallas Mavericks Las Vegas opener by earning 15 minutes of court time against the Milwaukee Bucks today.

His box score numbers won’t jump out at you, as he only managed two points and three rebounds. But it’s his ability to physically alter the contest that will earn the respect of his team mates and coaches alike.

One interesting exchange happened in the second quarter. Bucks guard Tim Quarterman and Dallas Mavericks young star Dennis Smith Jr got tangled up on the sideline near center court. Quarterman inconspicuously bumped Smith Jr, with Creek catching sight of the minor altercation. Creek had some words with Quarterman and was approaching him further before being directed away by his teammates.

It wasn’t much, but you can just tell that Creek is the ultimate teammate. He’s been with this squad for less than a week and he’s willing to go into battle for them. Put simply, if an NBA team is eyeing off a couple of prospects and character is a difference maker? Creek will likely be at the top of the list.

4. Duop Reath is enjoying the Summer League experience

22-year-old, LSU product, Duop Reath is one of the more under-the-radar Aussies taking part in Summer League play. He’s teamed up with Mitch Creek in Dallas, though the 6’11”, 245 pound big man still awaits his opportunity.

Reath failed to see the court against Milwaukee today, receiving just 2:50 of court time against Phoenix on Saturday morning.

In speaking with The Pick and Roll after today’s game, Reath was extremely upbeat and positive about the invaluable experience he’s gained from joining the Mavericks, despite not getting much of an opportunity thus far.

“The coaches are great over here,” Reath said. “It’s a process. It’s about learning every day, just trying to pick up every little thing, especially from the guys that have experience. I just need to pick up every little thing from those guys and the coaches too.”

It’s important to remember, that not every talent on a Summer League squad expects (or even hopes) to join an NBA roster this season. It’s about learning and continuing to grow for the future, while getting exposed to the NBA system. For Reath, it’s definitely been a worthwhile journey so far.

5. Air conditioning is a proven lifesaver in Vegas

The weather in Las Vegas has been hot. Actually, that’s putting it lightly. It’s been absolutely scorching, as the mercury has failed to drop below 40 degrees during the daylight hours. Fortunately for the players and fans alike, the air conditioning has been holding strong, keeping things comfortable inside the arena.

This morning as I left for the Thomas and Mack Center, an out of the blue dust storm blew up on the strip. A subtle reminder that just beyond the bright lights of the Las Vegas, the desert awaits. Sand, dirt and not much else.

Here we are in the middle of the desert, NBA stars walking around everywhere you look, media and fans from all over the world convening for this offseason basketball extravaganza. The amount of fanfare and attention this tournament gets is incredible, and for that reason you feel that only it’s only fitting that it lands in Vegas – a candidate for the most over-the-top city in the world.

Now excuse me, but I have some money to win (I probably mean lose, but at least the casino is air conditioned.)

What’s next?

Day 4 of the 2018 Las Vegas Summer League will see seven Aussies in action.

  • Jonah Bolden returns to the court as the Philadelphia 76ers meet the Washington Wizards – 7:30am (AEST)
  • Mangok Mathiang and the Charlotte Hornets take on the Boston Celtics – 9:00am (AEST)
  • Xavier Cooks of Golden State with clash with Mitch Creek, Duop Reath of Dallas – 9:30am (AEST)
  • Emmett Naar will look for playing time when the Phoenix Suns play Orlando Magic – 11:30 (AEST)
  • The Houston Rockets and Deng Adel will see the Los Angeles Clippers – 1:30pm (AEST)

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