Steep learning curve for young Clippers

Steep learning curve for young Clippers

By Lance Jenkinson

The Los Angeles Clippers top prospects have delivered the good, the bad and the ugly across two NBA Summer League games.

All eyes are on the three new draftees, Keon Johnson, Jason Preston and Brandon Boston, along with last year’s draftee, Jay Scrubb, who¬†is featuring in his first Summer League after last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Wins and losses are not the be all and end all in Summer League, so two defeats from two games will not irk the Clippers hierarchy.

The Clippers produced a spirited display in a first up 81-78 loss to the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks.

The next night they were blown out 86-66 by the vastly more experienced Portland Trail Blazers, featuring veterans Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried and Michael Beasley.

Let’s take a look at how the aforementioned young Clippers have performed through two games.

Keon Johnson

Johnson has settled in nicely on both ends of the court.

The 19-year-old guard has shown a willingness to get his hands dirty and be a disrupter defensively.

His energy permeates around the team.

Offensively, Johnson’s ball handling and passing has been impressive.

Embed from Getty Images

He is a willing driver into the lane and his kick outs to shooters have been a feature of the team’s play.

We are yet to see Johnson make full use of his athleticism to find cheap baskets, but that is understandable so early in preseason.

A huge concern so far is Johnson’s shooting – not only has the ball rarely dropped from distance, it has looked a bit forced and his shot selection has been questionable at times.

The positive is that the mechanics of his shot does not look broken, but he will need to do plenty of work with a shooting coach to be relied upon as a scorer in the NBA next season.

While he is clearly lacking polish, it has been a promising start to Summer League for one so young.

Jason Preston

There is no doubt that Preston can pass the ball.

The point guard is able to turn a half chance into an assist with ease.

The 22-year-old showed his basketball IQ with eight assists to just one turnover in the opening game.

Unfortunately, that is where the praise ends for Preston’s offensive game, when it pertains to his first two Summer League appearances.

Embed from Getty Images

The youngster has been camped on the three-point arc and seems afraid to drive for fear of contact.

He is only slight of body and is getting beaten up physically on both ends.

Let’s hope it is just early nerves and he can be more aggressive in the upcoming games.

Preston needs to be seen to be attacking the paint to have any meaningful use for the Clippers this season.

Brandon Boston

At 19, Boston is only raw, but he sure is a go-getter.

The 51st overall pick has the potential to be a draft steal for the Clippers.

Sure, there is a lot to iron out in his game, but the confidence that he possesses, the athleticism and the mechanics of his shot should make the Clippers fans excited.

Boston’s ball handling skills have come better than advertised.

He is not afraid to engage and blow by an opponent in a one-on-one battle.

Where Boston has run into trouble is when he goes beyond his defender, getting a little bit lost among the big men in the paint and making rushed decisions.

Embed from Getty Images

Unlike Johnson, who’s best work has come in congested lane situations, Boston needs to settle down and make the right decision.

Remembering he is still a teenager, that should come with time.

Boston has the makings of a strong scorer at NBA level, thanks to his willingness to work hard off the ball to find space and utilise his length to shoot over defenders.

Has there been a better sight for the Clippers than Boston’s nothing-but-net three-point shots from the corner?

Defensively, Boston has passed most of the tests thrust his way.

Jay Scrubb

There are times when Scrubb needs to pump the breaks and remember there are four other Clippers on the court with him.

The 20-year-old is not lacking in confidence, adopting a shoot-on-sight mentality.

It would be easy for Scrubb to get carried away because he shot the lights out in the first game and showed as close to an NBA stroke as there has been in Summer League so far.

He is fierce on both ends and clearly wants to take the lead.

However, Scrubb needs to be a better game manager and work better within the structure of the team.

His confidence is admirable, but, at times, he just needs to temper his enthusiasm.

If he can, there is no doubt that Scrubb can carve out significant minutes for the Clippers this season, much like Terance Mann did last season.

Lance Jenkinson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *