Notes from NBA Summer League: Evan Mobley is a modern playmaking big
LAS VEGAS — There is far too much action at NBA Summer League to catch it all. That has led to this news and notes column the past few days, although this will be the last one as I am heading home after four days living in the heat and in a mask.
• Evan Mobley’s ability to get a bucket in the NBA is going to be a work in progress. The No. 3 pick of the Cavaliers drained a three (and a long two), and he finished with 14 points, but on 5-of-15 shooting.
However, watch him pass the ball and go for blocks and change shots, and you quickly realize he can impact NBA games while he figures a lot of things out (and hits the weight room to get stronger. Mobley finished the game with six assists.
“He’s going to be an extremely integral piece for us throughout the season, and his willingness to share the ball and then also be able to get his own shot when he wants it is extremely important,” said Cavs coach J.J. Outlaw. “As you can see, his teammates trusted that he would deliver the ball on time, on target when they would cut and they just kept cutting.”
Mobley isn’t just looking to score first, he’s looking to make the right play. He looked more comfortable Wednesday, partly because Outlaw talked to him and they started getting Mobley the ball at the left elbow, a spot he is used to playing from.
“I feel like my game is very playmaking, and I saw a lot of reads tonight, guys were cutting and they were able to finish,” Mobley said.
Big men generally take longer to develop, and Mobley has a very long way to go. But the athleticism and fundamentals are there, and the potential is obvious. The Cavaliers just have to help him develop it.
• Best dunk I saw on Wednesday? It was Jalen Suggs, who got up for the nasty putback.
• At least, that was the best dunk of the day until I saw Gary Payton II do this.
Payton and the Warriors recently agreed to push back the partial guarantee date for his contract until the start of training camp (it was to be up today). That said, the way he has played through a couple of games in Las Vegas, it may be tough to leave him off the roster. He had 13 points and shot 3-of-3 from 3 on Wednesday.
The Warriors also could waive him then re-sign him to a non-guaranteed contract, which would save the team about $300,000. The risk is other teams who have seen him perform so well in Vegas take a swing and see if they can lure him away from the Bay.
• I spent a game more intently watching the Bulls’ Patrick Williams, and the first thing you notice is how much he has bulked up. It’s hard to picture him playing the three anymore, more of a stretch four. He’s been a streaky shooter here, but when he gets hot — like the second half against the Spurs Tuesday — there’s nobody here stopping him. Williams had 30 in that Spurs win.
• With the Rockets, come for the Jalen Green show, stay for the Josh Christopher show.
• Everyone’s fan favorite here in Vegas is Orlando’s Janis Timma, the Latvian with the bleach blond hair, plenty of ink, and looks like he his next career will be playing the role of European henchman in movies.
He’s been in Vegas before, playing for the Grizzlies after they took him 60th (last) in the 2013 Draft. The Magic acquired his rights a couple of years later but he hasn’t been back at Summer League until this year. Now he is viral.
Timma has had a good career overseas, and was a member of the Latvian national team. He could end up back there this season, unless the Magic want him on the end of the bench (at age 29 he’s not a great candidate for a two-way contract).
• The Nets have David Duke Jr. on their roster, a 6'5" guard out of Providence, who is Black but shares a name with an infamous white supremisist. Brian Lewis of the New York Daily News asked Duke about it.
#Nets guard David Duke Jr. on sharing a name w/ the convicted felon & Grand Wizard of the Klan: “If anybody should change his name, it should be him. I should be the one keep it…One day I'm just hoping that when you look it up, it won't be so much negative around it.” #NBA— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) August 10, 2021