New Orleans Pelicans End Summer League With Loss to Timberwolves

Russ Smith and the Pelicans started off red-hot, but they could not maintain the offense they produced in the first quarter, and as a result, they lost to the Timberwolves 97-78. Smith finished with 21, and the only other Pelican in double figures was Cameron Ayers, who had 11. The Pelicans went cold after jumping out to a 30-22 lead after the first quarter, scoring just 48 points the rest of the way, while the Wolves out up 22 or more in every quarter.

It wasn’t much of a game down the stretch, so instead of recapping the Pelicans third straight loss, I want to take an overall look at what we saw from the Pelicans in Summer League and what, if anything, we can learn from it.

Notes and Observations

– Russ Smith finished Summer League averaging 16 points, 6.4 assists, and 5 rebounds. He shot just 43.4% and averaged 4.2 turnovers, but if you take out that terrible first half in his first game where he was still adjusting, he shot 46% and less than 4 turnovers. Smith got into the lane at will and found guys on kick outs throughout these five games. He often left his feet with no clear plan, and that resulted in some ugly turnovers. His spot-up three point shot is smooth, but when he takes a three off the dribble, he seems to push the ball rather than release it smoothly and the results aren’t great.

Smith has a solid mid-range game, showcasing a pull-up jumper and floater, and he can finish in a multitude of ways when he gets to the rim. Defensively, he is a pest on the ball who often anticipates his opponents next move and gets his share of on-ball steals. Off the ball, he has good awareness, but his height can work to his detriment when his man angles to the rim and gets a lob or back door pass. Overall, he is a guy that I am sure will make it in this league because he simply refuses to fail. Whether he gets minutes this season or not will all depend on whether he can cut down on those bad habits. If he can, he could move into the upper echelon of backup point guards.

– This was supposed to be Jeff Withey’s Summer League, as the coaches wanted to get him involved early and often. The goal for him was to be a double-double machine and a defensive anchor. He accomplished neither. He looked slow, and quite frankly, disinterested at times. He lumbered up and down the court and found himself on the perimeter far too often on offense. He put up just 7 points and 6 rebounds and shot just 40% against a bunch of bigs who probably won’t play a minute of basketball in the league this year.

He never had more than 4 defensive rebounds in a single game and never took more than 8 shots. He could not establish deep low post position, and his jumper was off for most of the tournament. Basically, he looked like most of the other big men in Summer League, but those guys are going back to the D-League or Europe. Withey was trying to prove that he deserved a spot in a rotation for a team trying to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Nothing he did should give the team or fans any hope that he can overtake Alexis Ajinca for the backup spot.

Patric Young, meanwhile, showed some promise and there is reason to believe that he can provide a spark for the Pelicans this season if and when he is officially signed to a contract. Young led the team with 8 rebounds per game despite getting just 25 minutes per game, and he often times was the only Pelican going all out defensively. Young dove for loose balls, always found a man to box out, and talked every possession. Offensively, he rarely got his number called, but he found ways to get buckets and always ran the floor hard.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Young has signed anything with the Pelicans, but I think we are all rooting for him to join the team. Young’s energy and effort is needed on this young team, even if it only shows itself in practice and for spot minutes during the season. Quite frankly, he looked better than Withey in almost every way during Summer League, and it would be a shame to see him join another team after having first crack at him. Here’s hoping Dealer Dell gets it done.

– Darius Miller being brought back was expected, but I found it curious that Jimmer Fredette was signed yesterday. I was convinced that the Pelicans would leave the 15th roster spot open for several guys to computer for, including Cortney Fells, James Southerland, and Dequan Jones. Instead, they chose Jimmer, and now it looks like the roster is set if and when Dell signs Patric Young. Fells looked like the best player of the young wings, at least offensively. He was willing to let shots fly whenever he found an opening, and he had a relatively quick release. I am convinced that he will eventually find a spot in this league, and maybe he is a guy Dell has on his radar for next year if he continues to grow as a player on the other end of the floor.

– Now we get into the dead season. No more games, and likely no more transactions. We will have a podcast soon, and the articles will keep coming, but there will be nothing until Team USA (snd Anthony Davis) takes the court. Then, Pelicans basketball will start again in October. It is going to be hard to wait, but there is plenty to be excited about with this roster.

8 responses to “New Orleans Pelicans End Summer League With Loss to Timberwolves”

  1. Withey looked totally disinterested in this game.  He had only a couple of rebounds where he went after the ball, and many opportunities where he did not even try.
    On the other hand, it is Summer League, and nobody else on the NBA team bothered to even play.   Hopefully his effort level will be better in camp and pre-season.  
    I want to see Young signed to a 2-year cheap deal with team option for the 2nd year.   I want to see Fells, Southerland, and Jones in camp if nobody else snags them.   I haven’t seen official announcements for Fredette or Salmons or Casspi, so maybe a spot is open (or will become open) that we don’t know about that we could use for Fells or a European guy.

  2. Jason Calmes Well heck I just read Young has been extended a 2yr contract…where did the fit him?
    1-Holiday, 2-Gordon, 3-Evans, 4-AD, 5-Aski, 6-Anderson, 7-Rivers, 8-Ajinca, 9-Withey, 10-Babbitt, 11-Miller, 12-Smith, 13-Young, 14-Casspi, 15-Salmons, 16-Fredette ???

  3. Pelican Poster Jason Calmes You get min exemptions. Don’t have to fit it into your cap. 
    And Casspi is not on the roster, so remove him. There is your 15

  4. I had high expectations for Withey but he didn’t show well in Summer League.  That is troubling to me because he went into the games knowing that he was “the man”.  Someone said he might amp up during the season but I doubt that when talent will be superior to most of that he encountered in Vegas.  However, it was announced (by my post) that Young has been signed.  We need this high energy, high motor type of player.  I’m excited about a majority of this roster and expecting Darius Miller to have his break-out season this coming season.  At least we need him to.

  5. LaNative Actually brought Young’s signing up last night (below to Jason) as I could not figure out how they fit him in, given his comment that Casspi was official, which I took to mean also on. Mc cleared that up for me so it appears we stand full at 15.  I like Young as well, just hope he can continue to develop, find some minutes, and be effective when he does.

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