The Golden State Warriors’ Summer League schedule continued on Monday night at the Thomas and Mack Center on the UNLV Campus as they faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers. After losing all three games of the California Classic in Sacramento and their first game in Las Vegas, the Summer League Warriors got back on the winning track with a victory over the Toronto Raptors. Early in the matchup against the Lakers, it looked as though they might lose another contest as they fell behind by as many as nine points in the first half. But behind a dominant second quarter in which they outscored the Lakers 29-13, the Warriors seized control of the game and held on for the 88-80 win, pushing their record in Las Vegas to 2-1.
Another strong performance from Poole
Jordan Poole continued his run of impressive play in the 2019 Summer League on Monday night. After scoring 21 points against the Raptors, Poole contributed a team-high 23 points in the Warriors’ win over the Lakers, going 7/15 from the field and 3/8 from three-point range. Poole also posted a team-high plus/minus of +13 in the win.
Poole’s willingness to take shots continues to be an impressive part of his game, something that shows he's likely to be a contributor once the regular season starts. The Warriors’ offense creates open looks for players given the defensive attention that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and (now) D’Angelo Russell command. Players need to be willing to take those shots or else the offense gets disrupted. If you have the ball and get a good look and it’s a good shot to take, you should take it even if you’re not Curry or Thompson or whomever.
Other rookies and younger players on the Warriors have hesitated too much when put into those positions. But Poole looks like someone comfortable taking the shot when the opportunity comes his way, exactly what the Warriors need him to do (and, ideally, make it but that’s another story).
You see that willingness to shoot on this play, a look that other Warriors rookies in the past might have passed on.
What was even more impressive about Poole’s play against the Lakers was the way in which he overcame a rough start. Poole was held scoreless for the first ten minutes of Monday night’s game and looked somewhat lost as the Warriors fell behind. For a rookie making his entry into the professional game, it would be very easy to get down on one’s self and mentally get out of the game.
But Poole did not fall into that trap, rebounding from his slow start to help the Warriors get a win. That is something that will pay enormous dividends once the regular season begins and Poole is sent out there to play with the Warriors’ star players. There will be ups and downs for Poole in the 2019-20 regular season but as long as he doesn’t get too down on himself during those rough patches, he can still be an important part of what this team is trying to do.
The legend of Smailagic continues to grow
Monday night’s game also provided a good example of the difference a few stand-out plays can make when it comes to evaluating a player’s performance.
After turning some heads in the first game of the California Classic against the Sacramento Kings, Alen Smailagic came back to Earth a little bit. For most of Monday night’s game, his play was somewhat underwhelming. Though he had a few passes that dazzled (including one where he found Poole to set the rookie up for a good three-point look that Poole knocked down), he seemed out of control at times and prone to making bad fouls. It looked to be another middling game for the Warriors’ second-round pick.
But Smailagic turned the narrative around with some highlight-worthy plays in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game.
#GLeagueAlum Alen Smailagic is FEELING IT tonight— NBA G League (@nbagleague) July 9, 2019
The @warriors 2019 2nd Round pick spent the 2018-19 season with the @GLeagueWarriors, reaching the #NBAGLeague Western Conference Finals!#NBASummer pic.twitter.com/xjiw3daI3r
Playing in the final game of the day at the Thomas and Mack Arena before a sparse and sleepy crowd, Smailagic woke everyone up with these strong plays on both ends of the court.
After the game, Warriors guard Jacob Evans III was asked about the show that Smailagic put on in the fourth quarter of tonight’s game.
Jacob Evans III lit up when I asked him about Alen Smailagic’s myriad highlights tonight pic.twitter.com/FzwchAbHMJ— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) July 9, 2019
Smailagic showed flashes throughout Summer League of why the Warriors thought he was worth that second-round draft pick. If he can become more consistent and in control he could be a nice rotation piece for the Warriors.
Evans III continues to develop
Speaking of Evans III, his development as a player was apparent in Monday night’s game against the Lakers. Evans III scored 12 points in the win while also handing out a team-high eight assists. One of those assists came on this play that set Poole up for an easy jump shot.
Most people were skeptical regarding Evans III playing like a point guard. But while that was initially greeted with incredulity, it appears as though Evans III might be suited to play the position. The Lakers even tried to pressure Evans III as he brought the ball up the court but the second-year player was able to successfully navigate the Lakers’ defense.
While one shouldn’t expect Evans III to play against regular-season NBA rosters like he has against the Summer League ones, his play thus far this summer is worthy of praise and appreciation.
Jacob Evans III is doing good things this Summer League. On the one hand, Summer League performance comes with Hummer-sized grains of salt. On the other hand, he did not do good things last year.— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) July 9, 2019
While thinking that Evans III is ready to be the next big thing based on his Summer League play might be going a bit too far, he is doing things that should give Warriors fans hope that he’ll play like a first-round draft pick in the coming regular season.
Reed and Toscano-Anderson shine coming off the bench
Two other players who impressed in Monday night’s win were Davon Reed and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Reed impressed on the defensive side of the ball, pressuring the Lakers players into bad shots and turnovers. Reed’s plus/minus reflected that strong defensive effort as he finished the game at +11, the second-best total on the team.
Toscano-Anderson’s energy, something that you also saw in Saturday night’s win over the Raptors, was on full display against the Lakers. Toscano-Anderson kept plays alive, fighting for offensive rebounds and loose balls, which gave the Warriors multiple chances to score. Toscano-Anderson finished Monday night’s game with 9 points and 6 rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.
While it remains to be seen if these players can make any contribution to the Warriors’ NBA roster, the effort and hustle both players showed against the Lakers warrants some attention and appreciation.
The Warriors Summer League slate continues on Wednesday evening with their game against the Denver Nuggets.