At 6:30 PM Eastern time, the New Orleans Pelicans summer league team will face the Washington Wizards. Here are a few things to watch for during the game.
Austin Rivers’ Ball Handling: After struggling mightily throughout his rookie season, Rivers has shown some promising improvements during summer league. While he always displayed the ability to get into the lane, Rivers has done a much better job penetrating while under control, allowing for an easier finish and heightened awareness of passing lanes. One of the biggest restrictions to Rivers’ game as a rookie was the inability to drive or finish with his left hand. During summer league, he has flashed improvements in this regard, but has not yet displayed consistent skill with his left hand.
Jeff Withey in the Pick and Roll: Withey, acquired from Portland in the Robin Lopez trade, has the length, strength, and defensive awareness to a be an impactful defender in the NBA. Unlike several prospects lauded for their defense, Withey has shown offensive skills, and could be valuable as an NBA finisher. However, the Pelicans’ guards have not done a consistent job finding Withey, who should look to make himself more clearly available as he rolls to the basket.
Darius Miller’s Play: Miller is playing for a roster spot, and though he will likely have no significant impact on the Pelicans next season, his play Friday may impact whether he is associated with the team over the course of the season.