Williamson already likes spacing of NBA game
By Tim Reynolds
AP Basketball Writer
Zion Williamson knows he has a lot to learn starting when he makes his NBA Summer League debut.
That said, he’s already picked up a few things.
The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft by the New Orleans Pelicans is in Las Vegas, where his first game on Friday is officially sold out and, predictably, a hot ticket on the resale markets. After practicing Tuesday, Williamson said he’s noticing that some of the rules of defense in the pro game seem a bit more offense-friendly than the zones he often saw in college.
“I do like the spacing a lot more,” Williamson said, in a video posted to the Pelicans’ web site. “You can’t really just stand in the paint, so it gives me a lot of room to operate. Defense is just a little different as well.”
New Orleans plays New York on Friday night in the opener for both teams in Las Vegas. The four-team leagues in Salt Lake City and Sacramento continued Tuesday, with both set to wrap up Wednesday before all 30 NBA teams — plus the Chinese and Croatian national teams — arrive in Vegas in what has become an annual convention of coaches, players, scouts and executives.
And, especially on Friday, plenty of eyes will be on Williamson.
“He’s so explosive,” Pelicans summer league coach Fred Vinson said. “You get him inside, especially create some mismatches, he can definitely be tough to handle.”
Pelicans guard Frank Jackson was in summer league last year as well, and said he’s already noticing a much different feel this year.
The Williamson effect is just part of that.
“Every guy we have here wants to win and wants to get better every single day,” Jackson said. “I think there’s an energy in New Orleans now that everyone can feel and we’re ready to get it rocking.”
SALT LAKE CITY
SPURS 99, GRIZZLIES 84
In Salt Lake City, Keldon Johnson scored 29 points and made a 55-footer to end the third quarter, and San Antonio (2-0) didn’t have much trouble with Memphis.
Johnson was 10 for 17 from the floor.
“I’ve definitely got some things I can improve on,” Johnson said.
Ben Moore scored 16 points, Jeff Ledbetter had 15 and Thomas Robinson added 14 for the Spurs, who led by 22 points in the second quarter and kept control the rest of the way.
The Spurs gave several players the night off, including Lonnie Walker IV.
Dusty Hannahs scored 20 points for Memphis (1-1). Paris Lee had 13 for the Grizzlies, and Ben Lawson and Tyler Harvey each added 10.
JAZZ 86, CAVALIERS 71
Tony Bradley’s big summer continued, as he finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds in Utah’s win.
Bradley has 40 points and 31 rebounds through two games of summer league for the Jazz (1-1), who had a big lead cut to six midway through the fourth quarter before closing out the victory and keeping Cleveland (0-2) winless in Salt Lake City.
Bradley — in summer league for the third time — was 9 for 13 from the floor and 8 for 10 from the foul line.
“I just wanted to show that I had energy and could run the floor and had a high motor,” Bradley said.
Justin Wright-Foreman scored 20 points and Tanner McGrew finished with 12 for the Jazz. Isaiah Cousins led Utah with six assists.
Naz Mitrou-Long led Cleveland with 17 points. Dylan Osetkowski finished with 14 for the Cavaliers and Malik Newman scored 13.
In Sacramento, the Lakers got down by 11 early and then controlled much of the final three quarters.
Zach Norvell Jr. scored 20 points for the Lakers (1-1), and Devontae Cacok finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five steals.
Joe Young added 13 points and Marcus Allen scored 10 for the Lakers.
Eric Paschall scored 18 for Golden State (0-2) on 6-for-8 shooting. Jacob Evans scored 13 while Alen Smailagic, Damian Jones and Jordan Peele all finished with 10.