The No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves will go head-to-head with the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies for the NBA Summer League title crown in Las Vegas. The matchup will feature at least one player we can expect to see on the court in the upcoming regular season.
Grizzlies guard Ja Morant didn't suit up for summer-league action, but Memphis saw another rookie first-rounder shine in Vegas.
Brandon Clarke picked up where he left off with Gonzaga, displaying an appetite for physical play and his defensive prowess. The former Bulldog has recorded double-doubles with a game-winning basket over the last two contests.
Memphis won't be able to pinpoint the Timberwolves' scoring leader with several contributors in the rotation. Josh Okogie, who's more of defensive presence, remains questionable for the championship matchup with a shin injury.
In the big picture, the upstart talent on both teams will have one more opportunity to show their respective coaching staffs why they deserve a spot or more minutes with the main roster for the 2019-20 season.
Take a look at the viewing information for Monday's contest to catch the tipoff and the rise of a new summer-league champion.
Date: Monday, July 15
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Four Timberwolves Finish with Double-Digit Scoring Totals
We should see widespread scoring contributions from Minnesota's deep rotation whether Okogie suits up or not. Naz Reid has been a solid playmaker in Vegas, but this squad doesn't feature a short list of players. The Timberwolves' group effort has put them in this position.
Going into Monday's contest, six Timberwolves are averaging at least 10 points per contest. Reid will have a tough battle on the interior with Clarke, but he can step behind the three-point line to knock down shots.
Mitchell Creek has scored at least 10 points in four consecutive games. Kelan Martin shot 50 percent from the field through six outings. If Okogie sits out, he'll likely play enough minutes to make a significant impact. Jordan McLaughlin, Minnesota's lead distributor with 5.3 assists per game, will have enough opportunities to create his own shot.
The Timberwolves will play to their strength, moving the ball around for open looks at the basket to rebound from a poor shooting night (33.3 percent) against the Brooklyn Nets. As a result, at least four of their players should easily reach the 10-point mark.
Brandon Clarke Shines, Logs Game-High 25 Points
Clarke's summer-league showing probably helped him cement a spot in the regular-season rotation for the upcoming campaign.
He provides a strong presence on the boards and challenges penetrators at the rim. The 22-year-old averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while converting on 57 percent of his shot attempts through five games.
With Tyler Harvey on the outside, Clarke will make his contributions in the paint, and the Timberwolves must account for his physicality. He's going to finish his summer with a third consecutive double-double performance.
As a scorer, Clarke's teammates can dump the ball to him on the inside or find the athletic 6'8", 215-pounder rolling to the hoop for an easy bucket. The latter method worked to seal an overtime victory Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans:
The Grizzlies may have two rookie first-round gems in Morant (No. 2 overall) and Clarke (No. 21 overall) who can crack the lineup for significant minutes in the 2019-20 season.
Minnesota Timberwolves Win 2019 Summer League Championship
Offensively, the Timberwolves will give the Grizzlies more than they can handle Monday. Minnesota can spread the floor and pick apart a defense—six of their players knocked down a three-pointer Sunday.
When going to the basket, Minnesota can take advantage of extra scoring opportunities. The club has shot 41-of-47 from the free-throw line over the last two outings.
The Grizzlies would need a stellar shooting night from Harvey to compete with the Timberwolves' firepower. Although he saved Memphis with a long three Sunday against the Pelicans, the 25-year-old is only converting on 42 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Bruno Caboclo has gone cold from long distance over the last two games, shooting just 2-of-13 from three-point land—his recent slump firing beyond the arc causes some concern for the supporting cast around Harvey and Clarke.
The Grizzlies can't expect Clarke to put the team on his back in the title game with two-pointers. The Timberwolves will become 2019 Summer League champions.
Prediction: Timberwolves 94, Grizzlies 83