2014 NBA summer league result: Warriors comeback falls short in 68-65 loss to Hawks

Photo by Getty Images.

The Warriors' hopes of repeating as Las Vegas Summer League champions came to an end with a failed late comeback attempt during a 68-65 loss to the Hawks today.

There are things that second-year guard Nemanja Nedovic does well.

He hasn't allowed himself to get "sped up" this summer, playing at a good pace and smartly changing gears when needed. He has nice touch on his passes. He's decisive and, at times, seems to see plays develop well.

Nedovic is not a bad player, relative to summer league competition; he also just never showed that ability to impose his will on summer league competition as you might want to see from someone you're hoping to get NBA-caliber contributions from.

And when given the opportunity in the Golden State Warriors' 68-65 loss to the Atlanta Hawks today his shortcomings once again managed to overshadow his strengths.

After the Warriors had whittled a 13-point deficit down to 3 with under a minute left, Nedovic pushed the ball upcourt down the sideline in transition off of a defensive rebound by Ognjen Kuzmic. With the defense still trying to get set, Nedovic tried to split two Hawks defenders from the left wing.

Maybe a quicker player could've taken advantage of that sliver of daylight to split the still unsettled defenders. Maybe a shiftier ball handler could've take advantage of the defense still trying to get themselves organized to make something happen once setting foot in the lane. Unfortunately, Nedovic committed his fourth and final turnover of the game after a flat-footed Hawks rookie Adreian Payne took a swipe at the ball, the Hawks recovered it, and the Hawks had a chance to extend their lead (which they squandered with a turnover too).

Nedovic seemed to look to the ref for a foul after the ensuing dead ball - and the Warriors took advantage of the Hawks' blunder to cut the deficit to 1 with 41 seconds left - but that's beside the point: Nedovic was unable to make a play when the Warriors needed him too; for much of summer league, he has looked unwilling or too passive.

Neither these outcomes nor these individual stats really mean much, but the problem with Nedovic is that he just hasn't shown the tools to make things happen. When he plays it safe, he doesn't necessarily hurt the team; when takes a risk, it just hasn't always seemed to pan out, much like Nate Duncan suggested after yesterday's game.

Nedovic finished with a 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting and four turnovers, none more significant than that final one. And after a 2013-14 season in which the Warriors were often plagued by the turnover bug, the Warriors' 22 turnovers today weren't exactly encouraging considering they had a second-year guard running things.

We probably shouldn't be just giving up on Nedovic at this point, but when you look back even at recent history in summer league, players who can impose their will consistently in summer league never really turn into contributors on a NBA roster. We can probably think of exceptions and summer success does not a NBA star make, but the type of mistake that Nedovic made at the end of today's game combined with his tendency to disappear for long stretches isn't exactly encouraging.

Other observations

  • Aaron Craft continues not to wow you statistically, but just seems to bring the type of energy and feel for the game that you'd prefer over what Nedovic offers as an end-of-roster point guard. Craft was in the middle of play with under 10 seconds left in which the Warriors almost got a turnover off a muffed Hawks inbounds pass, which could've led to a fast break and go-ahead basket to stay alive in the championship. He didn't make the play, but he was in the right place in the right time, which is about 2/3 of the position-decision-execution battle.

    Will Craft even make the roster? Who knows. But you can see what Kerr appreciates about him. And if you're not going to get consistent production out of that roster spot anyway, you might as well go with hustle.

  • Justin Holiday led the Warriors with 15 points but did so on 5-for-15 shooting, including both the shot that moved the Warriors within one point and the missed game-tying three at the buzzer. Considerably less impressive today, but hard not to like his motor and defensive potential.
  • Orlando Johnson really did little of note today, but you can see why folks might like him: he has the raw tools to become a NBA player while a player like Holiday seems to be a smarter, more refined basketball player. Will be interesting to see if they give Johnson a chance to develop somehow.
  • Ognjen Kuzmic sets some nice screens and had a game-high 10 rebounds, but summer league is so guard-dominated that his impact was minimal. He's a big body who could be a serviceable emergency option in spots, but probably not someone you'd want to rely on in a NBA rotation at this point.

What's next?

With the loss in the first round of the Vegas tournament, the Warriors' title defense has come to an end and Friday's game in the consolation bracket will be their final outing win or lose. But there's a silver lining to that, at least for us fans: the Warriors will be playing Jabari Parker and the Milwaukee Bucks, which will at least provide potential for a few highlight plays from a top draft prospect. The game will take place at 1:30 p.m. PST in Thomas & Mack.

For more on the game, you can check out the Peachtree Hoops recap from Vegas. For more on Golden State's time in Vegas, you can check out our 2014 Warriors Summer League section.

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