Rookies Gilgeous-Alexander & Robinson Shine at NBA Summer League

by Brandon Ehrlich

After being selected 11th and 13th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, Clippers rookie guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson made their mark in their first foray into professional basketball during the team’s entry in the 2018 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

“I think for the most part, we were able to show that Jerome and Shai are players. And they’re going to be a lot of fun for us to work with and continue to develop and grow,” said Casey Hill, head coach of the Clippers’ Summer League team. “Their foundation is very solid. It’s going to be a lot of fun to build on.”

Gilgeous-Alexander turned heads while putting his full array of skills on display, showing a proclivity for getting into the paint and not only scoring effectively at the rim and in the mid-range, but also setting up his teammates for easy looks. He is a natural distributor with a handle rarely seen of young guards. As a defender, Gilgeous-Alexander’s 6’6” frame and nearly 7-foot wingspan allow him to disrupt passing lanes and force deflections and turnovers. His high basketball IQ and physical tools often lead him to the right spots on both sides of the ball and in position to make an impact on the game.

Starting each of his four games, Gilgeous-Alexander is the first player in Las Vegas Summer League history to average at least 19 points, four assists and two steals across a minimum of three appearances, despite playing just 27.8 minutes per contest. In the team’s two wins against Sacramento and Washington, he averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals and shot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown.

“I feel like I’m getting better each game and that’s all I really wanted to get out of Summer League. [I wanted to] get more comfortable and just get more adjusted to the plays now,” said Gilgeous-Alexander after last Wednesday’s win over the Wizards. “Obviously the real league is going to be a little bit different, but the same thing goes for that, just get better every game.”

A rangy 6’5” guard, Robinson showed off a skill-set reminiscent of other sharpshooting, instant-offense sparkplugs that have been successful in the NBA in recent years. He is a confident jump-shooter, unafraid to attack defenders eager to close him out behind the arc with either a step-back or strong drive to the basket. His strong court vision affords him the ability to create for his teammates and see the floor as plays develop.

Despite missing three games for rest, Robinson started each of the three games in which he appeared, averaging 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in just under 24 minutes, and connected on at least two three-point attempts in each game.

Robinson’s biggest takeaways arguably came off the court, in conversations with head coach Doc Rivers and team consultant Jerry West. “It is great to have those guys in your corner, being able to grab their experiences and their knowledge and applying it to my game as best as possible,” said Robinson. “It is a great experience. There are things for us to hone-in and work on. I am sure we will have more [discussions] than just the short time we had here.”

Although Summer League was just the first pit stop for these promising young prospects, both Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson seized the opportunity to demonstrate the character, work ethic and skill-set that convinced the Clippers’ front office to select them as lottery picks in last month’s draft. With training camp opening in just over two months, fans can look forward to following the duo as they begin their rookie seasons and launch their NBA careers.