Summer League in the NBA isn't measured by wins and losses. But don't tell that to the Miami Heat Summer League team. They were well aware of the point scoring system and wanted all they could get. The Heat beat the Clippers 91-71 in their first game and recorded a maximum 8 points (4 for winning the game, and 4 for winning each quarter).
But the tone was set early on by the leaders.
Justise Winslow admitted before it all began that it was a difficult transition going from the NBA Playoffs to Summer League play. And he knew that this would be way different from last year. He's been here, and so his goal was to play with pace.
Watching all the other games out there, you can see why this is a task. Every player out there is trying to make a name for themselves, and score points to be noticed. There's frantic plays, turnovers, bad shots, lots of fouls (lots of uncalled fouls), and not your typical NBA basketball.
Winslow wanted none of that. He wanted to play with pace, and he did. He picked and chose when he would run, and when he would slow it down. He chose when to drive and when to shoot. Although it took him a while to warm up from deep, we could tell that he was more comfortable taking the three-point shot. That's something he will need to be able to do without Luol Deng or Joe Johnson. He finished with 21 points, 4 rebound and 4 assists.
He was the NBA.com standout of the day in the Summer League.
Josh Richardson help set the tone defensively for the team. He started in the back court alongside Briante Weber, and they both were relishing playing some full court defense and forcing their man to pass the ball. Richardson showed us that he can still ball -- taking it to the hole, shooting it and setting up his teammates.
He's going to continue to get better, and he has serious confidence out there. Briante Weber also showed some promise as a player the Heat like. He has really good ball handling and is crafty to get to the rim. Like I mentioned, he likes playing defense on ball. The question is can he become a steady outside shooter.
There's a few players to keep an eye on...
Stefan Jankovic :: At 6'11 he is tall and lanky. He has a very solid offensive game. He can shoot from deep, score in isolation and has good basketball IQ. The big question is how can he defend. The Clippers didn't have anyone who would test that, but we may find out later this week.
Norvel Pelle :: At 6'11 and even lankier than Stef, Pelle is a defensive specialist and scrapper. He went to loose balls, chased shots and was very active. He's a bit careless, and pretty raw. I won't be surprised to see him with a Sioux Falls invite.
Michael Carrera :: He has a good NBA body and uses it well, likely a Skyforce invite as well, but I don't think he's ready for the NBA.
There's plenty to more to observe and take a closer look at as the league continues. I expect Winslow and Richardson to play about 3 games during the week. Winslow also hinted at hoping not to play in the Vegas Summer League, and that he would be in Vegas regardless to play for the USA Select team preparing Team USA for the Olympics.
The Heat play the New York Knicks on Sunday, 3 PM EST and you can see it on NBATV.