By: Scott Levine
I don’t want to take credit for predicting Dennis Smith Jr.’s success for two reasons. One, he is playing way better in Summer League than even I expected. Two, it’s just Summer League. But holy hell does he look good.
We all knew he could score and blow past guys off the dribble. I have documented the shortcomings of his vision. He has shown improved vision since leaving NC State’s cramped offense.
Michael Gallagher caught two of Smith’s best dimes against Sacramento. Gallagher a great follow and has been doing this for a lot of Summer League games.
In both of these plays, Smith did not telegraph the pass. He got in scoring position, appeared to read the positioning of the defense, and made the correct play. He rarely did this at NC State, and did it twice in one quarter of Summer League play.
It’s possible that Smith had this in him the entire time, but his bad college team held him back. He has also shown better body language than at NC State. I’m ready to blame all of his weaknesses in college on NC State.
I have been informed that there are second rounders who have been playing well who I left of my first list. Here they are.
Sterling Brown, Sindarius Thornwell
I’m ready to walk back my bold prediction on Ivica Zubac. I have no idea if he’ll become a starting caliber center. He did not look good against Cleveland after a cheeky outing against the Sixers. Besides, what does “starting caliber” even mean? Timofey Mozgov may start for the Nets this season, so I guess Zubac could become Timofey Mozgov.
I should probably stop basing things off one Summer League game.
On that note, apparently we can’t deduce much from Summer League. Most people who study this stuff more than I do say that Summer League is pretty insignificant. There is a good chance nothing I ascertain from watching Summer League will matter.
The Kings’ offseason is being grossly overrated by Summer League commentators. It was fine, but it’s exactly the type of offseason that former players/coaches/etc. love. De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson? Hell yeah. High character guys. Talking heads love those players regardless of their awkward fit in the NBA. Veteran presence? Sure, sign Vince Carter for a year. George Hill works well enough with their guard rotation even if it means Malachi Richardson doesn’t play.
Zach Randolph doesn’t add much, cramps the floor, and takes prime real estate near the basket from Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. Yes, their offseason was much better than in previous years. But it’s hard to say more than that it was fine.