Summer League Stuff: Wolves upend Lakers 81-68


The Summer League is rarely a good barometer for future success, but that’s never stopped media and fans from getting as much Summer League action as they can, especially from their favorite teams. It’s the first chance for coaches and future teammates to take a look at what their newest draft picks look. On one hand, it’s incredibly important for coaches to try out new sets and see what they have to work with. On the other, the results rarely predict the future.

Still, this game was a Vegas attraction tonight. It brought out a crowd that hadn’t been seen previously.

The NBA has cleverly scheduled the No. 1 and No.1 picks to face off in the primetime hour of the Las Vegas Summer League’s first day. Last year, it pegged Andrew Wiggins (then with the Cavs) against Jabari Parker. This year, it squared off Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, of the Timberwolves and Lakers respectively.

Without going into too much detail on the overall scope of the game, the Wolves took control of the game early with some quality ball movement, and finished the win off with some nice play around the hoop, mostly by Lorenzo Brown and Othyus Jeffers.

But the Summer League, more than anything else, is about the prospects. Wolves fans tuned in to see the new rookies, and the returning youngsters, so that’s who we’ll look into….in perspective.

Remember, this is one Summer League game, not the end-all decision-maker of what will happen this season.


Zach LaVine: 24 pts, 6 rbs, 3 asts, 3 TOs, 7-17 FG, 4-8 3PT

One great part of present-day Zach LaVine is his clearly unshakable confidence. In the Summer League, it’s fun. LaVine was jacking up 29-foot 3-pointers, but was also making some of them. He made some mistakes on both ends, including some bad moments in the pick and roll on both ends, but I left feeling as good about LaVine as ever.

Iffy decision-making mixed in with athletic brilliance and some skill can give you a good statline with the right level of confidence. That’s what the Wolves might have in Zach LaVine.

Oh… he also does this.


Adriean Payne: 10 pts, 9 rbs, 8 fouls, 4-13 FG

Payne’s struggles in the regular season carried over a bit in tonight’s game, and continues to play like a 15-year-old kid learners’ permit driving a Porsche. His freakish athleticism is evidenced by the way he rebounds the ball, but his struggles come once his feet hit the ground again.

He struggled to make good decisions in the post, got jump-happy on both ends, and didn’t hit consistently from deep. Remember: there’s plenty of time for Payne to figure things out, but tonight’s game did not lead to confidence.


Karl-Anthony Towns: 12 pts, 3 rbs, 4 asts, 8 fouls, 4 TOs, 4-10 FG

After tonight’s game, Towns told NBATV that he was nervous coming into his first unofficial dose of NBA action.

The bad: He struggled to secure rebounds on the defensive end, struggled a bit in post-up situations, and had only 1 block in 32 minutes.

The good: He reinstated the confidence Wolves fans had in him after Flip Saunders drafted him. He showed a strong game on the pick-and-pop, was protecting the rim efficiently despite his low block totals, and, more than anything else, was passing out of double/triple teams at the level of a seasoned vet. He looked used to it, which is pretty astounding. If this passing is for real, the defense will have to respect it. That’s when the scoring will come.

Also: Broadcaster Reggie Miller kept calling Karl-Anthony Towns “Anthony Towns”, as if he had two last names instead of two first names. This went on the entire game, and was hilarious.


Tyus Jones: 0 pts, 2 rbs, 0 asts, 0-4 FG, 3 TO

Definitely not the way Jones wanted to start off his LVSL campaign. He struggled to get any offense going. His most consistent weapon, a sharp pass-first mind, didn’t seem to be present tonight. There’s not a ton to say on this one. Jones had opportunities to finish at the rim, but flat-out missed shots. He tried to get fancy at half court and got the ball stripped.

He was a freshman a year ago and was picked late in the first round. The learning curve for Jones is going to be longer than Towns’ with a lesser reward, but ultimately, Jones is a much better player than he showed tonight. Just a bad game is all.


The other guys: Lorenzo Brown and Othyus Jeffers

The only other two with any real chance of getting a spot on this roster, Brown and Jeffers were the steadiest forces for the Wolves all night.

Brown played to a point where Tweets like this were surfacing the internet. This opinion wasn’t without company.

However the regular season roster shapes up, it’s good to have guys like Brown and Jeffers on your Summer League squad. Both are legit NBA talents.


Lastly, here’s a video of Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine being awesome in a post-game interview. Good night.


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5 Responsesso far.

  1. Skune says:

    D’aww… The interview at the end was so cute. But seriously, it is nice to see that the guys are earnestly excited about playing together. Even during the best moments of the K-Love era, there was never a sense that the assembled roster really just enjoyed playing basketball together. I like that Flip has gone out and gotten guys that are not only uber athletic, but also display a very genuine and earnest character.

    Lorenzo Brown really stood out during the scrimmage on Wed, even hitting a couple jumpers. Despite his scoring limitations, his defense and ability to smoothly run the offense last year were welcome compared to LaVine’s attempts to run the point. I’m 100% in favor of him being ahead of Tyus on the depth chart until Jones can prove himself.

  2. Booch Paradise says:

    I was a little less rosy on my view of Zach. He seemed to put up quite a few bad shots that missed pretty badly. Checking the box score, he did have a better percentage than I would have guessed. But still, the ones he missed were the kinds of shots that annoy you even if they go in. Unless they go in night after night, in which case he’ll be a better player than Steph Curry very soon. But it seemed like more of an on night for J.J. Barea than dominant basketball.

    When he didn’t settle for jumpers though, it seemed like good things happened. I wish he’d drive a lot more.

    Towns was awesome. It didn’t seem like his jumper was that great, but his back to the basket game was a force.

    I didn’t notice Tyus Jones one way or the other for most of the game. Other than him having the ball stolen when he tried to get fancy, but that’s just rookie learning curve stuff.

    I really liked the description of Payne. My thoughts were that watching him I kept switching between thinking “Man it’s awesome that he can do that” to “WTF are you doing?!”.

    I wasn’t really watching any other players closely enough to have an opinion.

    And no matter how much I’ve complained about the announcers in the regular season, these guys were worse. The resolution on my stream wasn’t great, so it would have been nice to have comments related to what was actually going on, as in what player just scored a point, committed a foul, etc. But instead I was treated to speculation on Kobe and how remarkable it is that the Lakers suck when normally they are so good. Wee, I’m glad I was able to hear all that.

  3. farnorth says:

    Well, here’s what I thought after one game of summer ball:

    We need to keep Brown on the roster and Tyus is going to have to compete with him for minutes. The young man really struggled while Brown looked very good against the summer league talent.

    Payne is thinking too much and it is slowing him down, it’s obvious he wants to make an effort to get inside more and he is overthinking his position.

    Zach looks like he has really worked on his outside shooting and he is going to continue to work on that in summer league. Which is exactly what he should be doing. I am fine with the shots he took.

    Towns needs to get a mean streak, KG will help him with that. A couple of bad turnovers but also some really nice passes. I really wish we could have seen the Okafor/Towns match up we were all expecting. I hope we see a less nervous Towns tonight.

    Overall pretty much what we expected glimmers of hope mixed in with raw talent.

  4. seanie blue says:

    I think Jones is going to be the biggest surprise of the year for us. You cannot overrate the IQ. He gets 14 points on 8 shots, loses the ball twice, steals, assists, very cool. I was thinking Brown would be our emergency option when Rubio is out, but I’ll bet money right now that Jones can do at least as well as Brown can if he’s forced to start 25 games this season. We’ll be in the lottery again, picking in the top five, but it might be a great learning campaign for Jones. Very impressive. Especially since LaVine had such a terrible game: if he had been hitting, Jones would have been even more effective. Like what I see!

  5. Benj says:

    I’m from Australia so only get to see the very occasional Wolves game but follow the stats and blogs fairly closely. I saw the 2nd game.

    Tyus Jones looked fantastic. Quick with vision and a feel for the status of those around him.

    LaVine was just jacking shots. Not sure what he is meant to be working on in summer league. If it is his outside shooting he was certainly giving it a go. Didn’t see much playmaking ability from him. Agree that when he drives his verticality makes him dangerous – want him to continue this.

    KAT – stroked a few 15 footers which was encouraging. Looks to have good passing skills. Goes a bit fancy occasionally, maybe getting down on the block and trying a few basic post moves would be good.

    Payne – as per previous comments. He certainly has the athletic attributes to make it. Can rebound. Can hit a 3. Can get out of control and all tangled up.

    Overall pretty happy.

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