Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 82-65 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Leandro Bolmaro impresses
Leandro Bolmaro, after disappointing in the first three summer league games, actually looked quite good against the Clippers in game No. 4 on Friday afternoon. He scored 19 points on 8-15 from the field, including 3-7 from deep. He also added six rebounds and two steals.
I would like to thank Bolmaro’s Argentinian fans for so quickly and consistently making Bolmaro highlight videos after even his summer league games — summer league highlights are hard to find for everyone else, but not for Bolmaro. This video was posted at 4:57 p.m., the game ended at 4:53. Props.
The downside was that the playmaking was basically missing on Friday: he had no assists next to four turnovers. But I think Bolmaro’s consistently shown at every level he’s played at that he has what it takes to be a playmaker — in his first summer league games, at Barcelona, at the Olympics. I’m not worried at all about his playmaking at the NBA level.
What I am worried about is his ability to score enough to stay on the floor, and Bolmaro impressed at that today. He was much more aggressive in shooting the ball from beyond the arc, even taking some really deep ones. (His form gets wonky when he has to shoot it that far, so I don’t love it... but he did make one of them today.) Again, he’ll need at least a capable 3-point shot to be a winning player.
But he also showed that he can get to the midrange and hit pull-ups, as he does at 1:13 in the above video. That play was really nice: he shows comfort dribbling left, goes around the screen, snakes to get the defender on his back, and rises as the defense adjusts. Very well done!
Then he got to the rim with relative ease. Some of that was bad Clippers defense, but he found ways to attack shorter defenders and finish over them at the rim.
Perhaps Jared Butler sitting out this game gave him more freedom to attack. That being said, he’ll play with better players at the NBA level too, so he’ll need to find a way to contribute even when he’s the 4th or 5th best player on the floor. Still, this was promising.
2. Jarrell Brantley’s career
Here was a pretty confident take I had just over two years ago:
Brantley is now on the Clippers’ summer league team, and he’s averaged eight points and four rebounds per game so far. He’s 26 now.
The really disappointing part was how he performed in the EuroLeague this season for UNICS Kazan after being relatively experienced in the NBA, scoring just 3.3 points per game, shooting 32% from the floor overall.
Frankly, you’d expect better for a guy who had better percentages than that at the NBA level. Right now, though, he looks well below that.
So what did I get wrong? I knew he didn’t have a position, but figured he was skilled enough to find one. But:
• I overrated his athleticism in an NBA context. Brantley’s strength moves interior G-League defenders well, but NBA and even EuroLeague defenders are more solid and smarter. His quickness is impressive given his girth, but not on an absolute level.
• I overrated his ability to improve on defense. He’s always shown terrific hustle but not terrific smarts on that end, but I figured he’d learn and put it together more than he has.
• I overrated how useful his ability to dribble in the open court would be. Draymond Green was seemed like a cool archetype then, but frankly everyone brings the ball up now, and it’s all fine. But he’s not a pick and roll guy, and that matters more.
• His jump shot was slightly below-average as a rookie, and I figured it’d improve. Instead, it declined. I don’t know why.
Sometimes things just don’t work out, but I think my over-evaluation of Brantley went beyond bad luck. It’s a learning opportunity, to be sure.
That being said, Brantley may have an opportunity to fight for a Clippers’ two-way spot. Maybe Kazan was just a bad spot for him, and he’ll do better in camp with the Clippers.
3. C.J. McCollum on the call
This had every opportunity to be a boring watch of a game: fourth summer league game, no Jared Butler playing, an opponent without any big draftees themselves. And indeed, it’s not like the action was particularly high-scoring or beautiful.
But New Orleans Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum called the game, and honestly, it made watching the game a delight. He, and play-by-play man John Schriffen, did an excellent job balancing talking about the game and talking about the league as a whole.
The most impressive thing McCollum did was talk about the Xs and Os of the game. He broke down Lamar Skeeter’s play calls, including an after-timeout play with seven seconds left. When one player drove impressively, he talked about the difficulty of learning the dribble move that allowed him to get to the rim, and the strength work it took for McCollum, as a player, to learn that move.
There were a whole host of other interesting topics, too, from what McCollum thinks about the take foul rules, to how teams approach players for load management, to which other NBA stars McCollum tries to learn from in his own film studies. It was fascinating.
It was also much better than the host of former players we have who currently run play-by-play on telecasts. McCollum is unique: he has a journalism degree from Lehigh University. Most players don’t.
But I still came away with a sense that we could be getting a better product on from our other telecasters. Right now, you can go on TheBasketballPlaybook.com and buy Quin Snyder’s Horns playbook for $9.99 — but how many times are the likes of Reggie Miller and Chris Webber talking about the actual plays on the floor? The NFL’s Tony Romo does this, and the NBA’s commentators should be able to too, at least some of the time.
I hope ESPN and TNT explore ways to make our broadcasts better, by getting either more recently retired or current (injured?) players on broadcasts more often. I don’t want Players Only, to be clear: keep them focused and make sure they prepare to a greater degree than they do now, just like McCollum was.
(Also, Schriffen was great. ESPN can call him up to call play-by-play on NBA games whenever they like.)