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NBA Summer League Diary: Sunday Highlights & Analysis

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No Zion Williamson. No problem. Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald delivers his analysis and highlights from Sunday’s NBA Summer League action.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 3 - Minnesota Timberwolves v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Trail Blazers Las Vegas Summer League schedule is in full swing with a matchup against the Rockets set to unfold Sunday evening. Prior to the game, Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald is perched inside the UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center to analyze today’s action. From promising rookies to players with Pacific Northwest ties—Steve will be on hand to deliver details regarding Sunday’s action.

Regardless of Zion Williamson and Japanese star Yudai Baba’s absence from Sunday’s slate of games, the squads in action feature a handful of high-profile first and second year players.

This post will update throughout the day.

Game 1 | San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte Hornets

Hornets Notable Players: Miles Bridges, Robert Franks, Josh Perkins, Jalen McDaniels

Spurs Notable Players: Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic

Spurs: Quinndary Weatherspoon, a second-round pick out of Mississippi State, generated positive buzz during the pre-draft process. His court vision and motor make him an ideal candidate to put up solid numbers while in Las Vegas. He set the tone early against the Spurs with with eight points in the first quarter. Dangerous off the dribble, Weatherspoon is quick to exploit favorable one-on-one matchups and lazy rotations.

Hornets: Miles Bridges is an early candidate for this year’s “Too Good for Summer League” award. The second-year pro is patient off the dribble and connected on a seamless catch-and-shoot three-pointer in the first quarter.

Bridges kept it rolling in the third quarter with highlight-worthy dunk against a slow-to-react Spurs defense.

Spurs: Luka Samanic, the No. 19 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, overcame early jitters with a solid second quarter. The Croatian forward executed a gorgeous behind-the-back dribble move to beat Kennedy Meeks to the rim. Prior to that, the connected on a catch-and-shoot three-pointer over 6-foot-9 center Isaiah Hicks.

Samanic added seven points to his total in the third quarter (14 through three quarters). His ability to put the ball on the floor and score on the perimeter at his size project favorably for his future in San Antonio.

Hornets: Former Gonzaga point guard Josh Perkins found his rhythm from beyond the arc in the second quarter. Working on and off the ball, Perkins connected on two of his three three-point attempts to complete an 8-point first half.

Perkins continued his solid shooting from distance in the second half. Late in one possession he connected on a step-back three-pointer over the outstretched arms of Samanic.

Final Thoughts: Spurs rookie Keldon Johnson is not the most physically imposing forward, but he does an excellent job of outworking his opponents. He notched 19 points without having plays drawn up for him.

Perkins, who earned a slight reputation for his questionable shot selection in college, did an excellent job of picking his spots. He still has work to do if hopes to claim a roster spot, but showings like today are a step in the right direction.

Bridges was the best player on the court in this one. That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering his status as a NBA rotation player.

Spurs beat the Hornets 106-96 | Box Score

Game 2 | Atlanta Hawks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Hawks Notable Players: De’Andre Hunter, Omari Spellman, Bruno Fernando

Timberwolves Notable Players: Naz Reid, Keita Bates-Diop, Josh Okogie

Wolves: Josh Okogie put his athleticism to work on both ends of the court. Know for his defense, Okogie recorded a stellar block in the first quarter by sticking to his assignment in a one-on-one situation. Offensively, he took advantage of any open space the Hawks conceded.

Okogie kept things rolling with two corner three-pointers. It looks like the second-year wing is ready to compete with Jake Layman for minutes in the Wolves’ rotation. Defensively, Okogie prevented a transition layup from former Texas Tech guard Matt Mooney with a chase-down block.

Hawks: Spellman, the No. 30 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, showed off his floor-spacing chops in the first quarter. He is a mountain of a man, but he has a soft touch on his jumper. The big fella connected on both his three-point attempts in the first first quarter.

Hawks: Rookie center Bruno Fernando caught the ball on the perimeter, put the ball on the deck, and finished a smooth midrange jump shot through contact.

Hawks: DeAndre Hunter’s indecisiveness on offense prevented him from impacting the game in the first half. His first turnover was the result of him stepping out of bounds after receiving a pass on the perimeter. In the second quarter, he continued to settle for pull-up jumpers early in the shot clock.

Wolves: Bates-Diop, the No. 48 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has worked on his inside-out game since entering the league. He has excellent instincts when chasing rebounds and he converted a catch-and-shoot three-pointer to help push the Wolves’ lead to double-digits in the first half.

Final Thoughts: Like Bridges in the last game, Okogie’s experience in the NBA gave him a clear-cut advantage. The former Georgia Tech standout finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in the Wolves’ blowout victory over the Hawks.

For the Hawks, it would be fair to judge Hunter’s first outing in Las Vegas too harshly. The former Virginia star should bounce back quickly against the Pacers on Tuesday. Hunter went 2-8 from the field in 21 minutes of action.

Timberwolves win 90-66 | Box Score

We will have expanded coverage of the Blazers and Rockets game in separate posts later tonight. Portland’s second Las Vegas Summer League game is set to start at 7:00 pm in the Cox Pavilion (also available on NBA TV).