Diamond Stone’s first taste of NBA action in the Orlando Summer League was a bit of a roller-coaster ride for the former Maryland center.
As the Clippers’ second-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Stone started all five game for an L.A. squad that finished without a single victory. Stone averaged 10.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 2.6 turnovers in 24.4 minutes per game during those five contests.
Stone had his best performance against the Knicks in his third game, when he efficiently scored 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting (66.7 percent) and grabbed seven rebounds. The 6’11 center had another good outing in his team's finale, again against the Knicks, by scoring 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting (58.3 percent) and again grabbing seven boards.
Aside from that, Stone struggled in his other three contests, as he averaged just 5.7 points on 6 of 17 shooting (35.3 percent) in those games. To make matters worse, the Maryland product continues to struggle on the defensive end. Stone’s lowlight came when he fouled out against the Thunder. It takes 10 fouls to foul out of a game in summer league, and Stone accomplished that feat in 18 minutes of play.
The next step for the offensively gifted center is to show his evolving game off to the Clippers organization at the team’s training camp in September in hopes of earning a guaranteed contract and making the 15-man roster for the 2016-17 season. Given his recent work ethic and training at IMG Academy’s facilities in Florida leading up to the NBA draft, the next two months will be key for Stone’s development.
With centers Cole Aldrich and Jeff Ayres still testing free agency, L.A. currently has nobody backing up DeAndre Jordan at center. This certainly gives Stone a shot at making the roster.
However, Stone could still end up spending much of the season in the D-League. (The Clippers don’t have their own D-League team, but can still assign him to a team.) Last season, 2014 first round pick C.J. Wilcox and 2015 second round pick Branden Dawson were assigned to the developmental league four and five times, respectively. Stone will be hoping to not to repeat history.