Lee, Garza lead the charge as Pistons finish Summer League with a flourish
Garrett Ellwood (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Monday night’s 79-78 win over the Orlando Magic at Thomas & Mack Center
OUT WITH A WIN – The Pistons finished Summer League with a three-game win streak and without their most acclaimed starters in the lineup. Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes sat for the second straight game and were joined in street clothes by Saddiq Bey, leaving Saben Lee and Luka Garza as the headliners – and they led the way past Orlando. Lee, getting to play with the ball in his hands for nearly all of his 26 minutes with Hayes and Cunningham out, controlled the game and helped the Pistons take command early. In 13 first-half minutes, Lee had 12 points and six assists without a turnover and hit 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc. His tough floater with 40 seconds left gave the Pistons a five-point lead and essentially sealed the win. He finished with 19 points and eight assists. Orlando trailed the entire game but crept within a point early in the fourth quarter. That’s when Deividas Sirvydis, who had a rough Summer League, heated up. He hit three triples and a long two to push the Pistons lead back to 10 with seven minutes to go. The game featured teams that held three of the top eight picks in last month’s draft, but none of the three rookies played – Cunningham for the Pistons, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner for Orlando. Suggs was shut down by the Magic after suffering a sprained thumb in Thursday’s game. Cunningham’s Summer League ended after three games. He averaged 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks and shot 50 percent from the 3-point line on nearly nine attempts per game.
GARZA’S REWARD – Luka Garza wrapped up an eye-opening Summer League performance with another solid game. Perhaps he had good reason to celebrate. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Garza had agreed to sign a two-way contract with the Pistons. He then went out and 21 points and 15 rebounds, going for a double-double by halftime when he put up 15 points and 10 rebounds. Garza came off the bench behind Tyler Cook for the first two Summer League games and started the final three while playing significantly more minutes. Coming into Monday’s finale, his Summer League numbers were 13.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 blocks in 20 minutes per game on shooting of 52.9 percent overall and 42.9 percent from the 3-point arc on 3.5 attempts per game. In the three games Garza started, he averaged 17 points and 13.7 rebounds.
PICKETT IMPRESSES – Undrafted Georgetown forward Jamorko Pickett finished off a surprising and impressive run through Summer League, contributing 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Pickett, 6-foot-8, averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 21 minutes a game over the first four games while shooting 54 percent from the 3-point line on 3.3 attempts per game. It’s been reported that Pickett has been signed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the Pistons, which means he’s likely to be invited to training camp and be in line to be part of the Motor City Cruise, the new G League affiliate that debuts this fall in a new arena on Wayne State’s campus. Pickett spent four years at Georgetown and averaged 12.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 35 minutes a game as a senior for the Hoyas, shooting 37 percent from the 3-point line. Pickett’s length, 3-point shooting, athleticism and motor give him the tools to make for an intriguing developmental prospect.