Wednesday morning saw a reduced five-game schedule, as the knockout round of the 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League kicks off tomorrow.
Jock Landale was the only Aussie in action today, as the Atlanta Hawks took on the Chicago Bulls at Cox Pavilion. Here are some ground-level observations from Day 5, which will also my last day in Vegas.
1. Revisiting Deng Adel's Day 4 excellence
I'm going to veer away from procedure and include notes from Day 4, because it would be remiss of me to look beyond Deng Adel's performance in the late game at Thomas and Mack yesterday.
Adel had struggled for opportunities in the Rockets' first two outings, receiving only two minutes of court time in total. Adel however, remained upbeat about his chances, when The Pick and Roll caught up with him last week.
“I’ve got that resiliency to be patient and continue to grind,” Adel said. “The opportunities are there, [obviously] I’m here now so the opportunities are going to be there.”
As tough as it must have been for Adel to bide his time on the bench, he emphatically made the most of his sudden opportunity against the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday. Adel played a major role, racking up 11 points in a solid 22 minutes of playing time. He also snaffled three steals and swatted a shot as the Rockets came up with a big win, and moved to 3-0 in Vegas.
An excited Adel explained to The Pick and Roll post-game on how he was able to deliver for his team, despite being limited in earlier games.
"I got the opportunity and took advantage of it," Adel said. "I’ve always got to stay ready. I might not [get the chance to] play the next game. But I can't get down on that - my name was called for a reason, and I’ve just got to go out there and play basketball."
Play basketball he did, and the young Aussie put on an eye-catching display.
2. Landale returns to the start
Jock Landale's third appearance in Las Vegas received a significant shot in the arm pregame, as he was re-inserted into the Atlanta Hawks' starting lineup. After starting in the Hawks' debut Summer League game, Landale was relegated to a reserve role and played only eight minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
On the surface, Landale did not seem like a major influence on the box score. The Hawks however, were +21 on the scoreboard, during the 21 minutes that Landale was on the floor. That number becomes even more impressive, when you note that the Hawks wound up winning the game by only eight points.
Similar to Mangok Mathiang's comment to The Pick and Roll yesterday, Landale admitted to the media post-game that he was made aware prior to yesterday's reduced role.
"Last game, coach told me he was going to rest me a little bit, play some of the other guys and extend the rotation a little," Landale said. The explanation does help to clarify that it was more on sharing opportunities with his teammates, than anything the youthful big man had done, or not done on the floor.
Jock then continued on to speak about some of the difficulties he faced, while adapting to NBA Summer League level competition.
"I’m just trying to figure out how I can be effective and efficient," he said. "Once I get back to my 60% [shooting] i’ll be pretty happy with myself, so I’ve just got keep finding ways to adjust to that."
It's been a learning experience for Landale so far, but with another week of Summer League play ahead, the opportunities will continue to come for him, while the search for an NBA contract rolls on.
3. The Pick and Roll's wrap on ground-level Summer League coverage
With the end of the day's play, so too comes the end of my first Vegas Summer League experience. It truly has been an incredible week, and I now understand why so many basketball fans are sucked into the annual trek to UNLV.
Covering the Australians at Summer League has been an absolute pleasure. Their excitement to be involved in the NBA system, combined with their desire to learn and grow has been a joy to see. On the court they have well and truly held their own, now time will tell if they can capitalise on their strong start in the second week.
In years gone by, covering the Aussies might have been a less complicated task, with only a few players plying their trade in Vegas. The abundance of talent coming through however, has resulted in a logistical struggle - that of navigating the schedule, in an attempt to catch every guy in action.
Credit: Kane Pitman
Summer League presents a unique experience for the basketball lover. Non-stop action on the court, combined with an endless number of millionaire talents strolling around off the court. It can be easy to forget how important this moment is for the guys battling for their professional lives, fighting to show every bit of their talent off, in the chase for an NBA contract.
The eight Australians taking part in Summer League will now battle it out in a knockout style tournament, in a bid to determine an overall champion. Here's hoping they can continue to impress, as the tantalising reward of a 2-way NBA contract continues to dangle ever so close.
Six Aussies will fight to keep their Summer League run alive on Thursday morning:
Deng Adel and the Houston Rockets face the Brooklyn Nets - 8:00am (AEST)
Mitch Creek and Duop Reath take on the Chicago Bulls - 8:30am (AEST)
Jock Landale's Atlanta Hawks meet the Indiana Pacers - 10:30am (AEST)
Either Xavier Cooks or Mango Mathiang's Summer League will end as Golden State meet Charlotte - 12:30pm (AEST)