Notes from NBA Summer League: Warriors’ Moses Moody looks ready for bigger role
LAS VEGAS — The Warriors are going to lean on their young players next season — Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman — asking them to take on more as part of an effort to keep the minutes down for Golden State’s older stars. It’s about entering the playoffs with the best chance to defend their crown.
Moody looked up to that task in his first Summer League game this year — 34 points on 8-of-13 shooting, playing downhill and getting to the line 17 times, and he had a couple of blocks against the Knicks.
Kuminga looked disinterested on his way to 4 points on 2-of-10 shooting. Wiseman didn’t play. Again. (But might on Sunday.)
For Warriors faithful, Moody was the ray of hope — playing through a stomach issue, he looked too good for this level and ready for more responsibility in the fall. He plays a smart, aware game, always in the right place and making the right read.
“Summer league game, my first one my mindset was really go out there don’t force nothing, let the game flow, let the game come,” Moody said. “And you know that’s how that’s how it usually goes when you trust the process and trust your teammates and play good basketball.”
Kuminga never got in the flow of the game. The most explosive athlete on the court, he never showed it, nor did he take advantage of his strengths. He was not aggressive.
“I think for him he hadn’t played in a while and he was sort of a little bit late coming to us because he didn’t have the Cali classic. So a little bit of rust in his game that we all saw…" Warriors Summer League coach Jama Mahlalela said, trying to spin the performance as due in part to a new role. “So today you saw him handling and pick and roll a lot and sort of being the primary ball handler. Obviously with [Stephen Curry] and Klay [Thompson] out there he’s not doing that a ton. So this is a great chance for him to do it and get experience and learn what works, what doesn’t work, how’s the defense collapse? So in terms of experimentation, I think really great for him. The performance on the court obviously wasn’t but it’s a recipe he’ll get better.”
While the experimentation part of Summer League is unquestionably true, that doesn’t explain Kuminga coasting through a game. It’s just one game in the summer, but it’s the kind of performance that raises eyebrows.
Wiseman has yet to get on the court for Summer League, not in the California Classic in Sacramento and not in Las Vegas. He could play Sunday. Or next Tuesday.
There is so much else going on at the Las Vegas Summer League, here are some other notes and things I saw.
• I see what the Knicks like in Jericho Sims and why they have kept him (on a two-way contract). He has NBA center size yet moves very well, can jump out of the building, uses all that to disrupt on defense, and can finish around the rim. The Knicks are loaded with guys who can play the five, but Sims is the kind of guy you want to keep around and help develop. New York has something in him.
• Shaden Sharp — the Trail Blazers’ No. 7 pick — played in his first game since the AAU circuit on Thursday, but it didn’t last long. He left the Blazers opener early in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return. He had an MRI on the shoulder Friday, and if it turns out to be nothing he reportedly will play more in Summer League.
• Charlotte guard Scottie Lewis is out for the Summer League after surgery to repair a broken leg suffered in practice prior to the team’s first game. Lewis played on a two-way contract last season and was trying to earn his way onto another NBA roster (or get another two-way deal).
• The Pacers’ No. 6 pick Bennedict Mathurin dropped 23 in his debut.
• There was a lot to like in Jaden Hardy’s first game with the Mavericks. He showed a fantastic handle mixed with real patience on his drives, and made good decisions when the defense reacted. The G-League Ignite player was taken in the second round (37th) and looked like that could end up being a great pick. He’s a long way front stepping into Jalen Brunson’s shoes, but you could see some of that shot creation and decision making — something the Mavs need to support Luka Doncic.
• My early favorite to take the Summer League crown? The Detroit Pistons. They have more than half the guys on their regular-season roster suiting up for these games (at least to start), guys with NBA experience, and the result is NBA spacing, NBA picks being set, and just a generally higher level of play than the scrambling pickup style of most Summer League contests.
• Players on the Sumer League champions this year will get a ring. Seriously.
What’s the under/over on a couple of these showing up on eBay?