The Lakers are back on the floor for Summer League today, facing off against the Milwaukee Bucks. In a twist to this year’s action, this portion of the action has shifted to a “tournament” where teams are seeded and, like the NCAA tourney, will advance to the next round with a win. The Lakers are the 8th seed, the Bucks are the 9th.
The tournament, though, is just window dressing and a way to spice up the action. From a practical standpoint, being the “champion” of this Vegas summer league won’t even get these guys a comp at their favorite buffet so let’s not start planning any parades if the Lakers advance.
No, the action is still about evaluating the players on the roster and finding a few guys who can earn invites to camp and, with strong showings there, have a chance to make the team. With that in mind, there seem to be three to four players who look to have a leg up on the rest of the roster to get that invite to camp come October:
*Marcus Landry. Landry has flashed solid all around play on both sides of the floor. He’s scored well even though his outside shot hasn’t fallen with great consistency and he’s competed well on the wing and in the post defensively. Landry is a bit of a tweener Forward and that versatility should help him in getting a longer look. If he can be an average defender at the PF spot while playing more of a SF role on offense, he has real value to the Lakers as a stretch big who can space the floor on one end while guarding bigger players on the other. Landry also has a history, albeit a brief one, of playing for Mike D’Antoni with the Knicks so that could also help him on only get to camp, but stick once there.
*Elias Harris. Harris offers good size and a nice skill set on offense. If he can hit the glass harder and prove to have a bit more stretch in his game by hitting some jumpers, he, like Landry, can get an extended look as a big man who fits the mold of what D’Antoni likes to do on offense. Again, however, he’ll need to show that he can defend and rebound his position a bit better but the physical tools are there.
*Chris Douglas-Roberts. I mention CDR every chance I get because he’s a nice offensive prospect who is showing the type of maturity you want in a player with his experience. In the game against the Clippers he was more assertive and looks to be more healthy than he was after spraining his ankle in the first game. We know he can score, so it’s nice to see him making some plays for others off penetration and, in general, moving the ball well within the flow of the offense. He’s also done well defensively, often guarding the best wing on the opposing team. If he can play well on D and continue to show a fully formed skill set on O, he can not only get an invite to camp, but challenge for a roster spot.
*Lazar Hayward. Hayward has been a whirlwind of activity, aggressively attacking on both ends of the floor. He’s active in trapping and getting into the passing lanes defensively and then changes ends well to get baskets in the open court. He could use a bit more refinement in the half court, but there’s typically a place in the league for guys that go as hard as he does while showing some semblance of skill offensively. I’m not sure if there’s a spot for him once the regular season starts on this roster, but it would not surprise me to see him in camp with the Lakers and on a regular season roster at some point next year (even if not the Lakers’).
There are other players who could get a camp invite, of course. Lester Hudson and Jordan Williams both have skills to play in this league but both also play positions and have styles that the Lakers seem to have on their roster already (Hudson is a small guard in the Farmar mold and Williams does some of the same things that Jordan Hill does). This likely means they wouldn’t make the big club come the end of camp, but both could find themselves in the league next year.
So, when it comes to this game, keep an eye on the guys mentioned above. You may just need to get familiar with one (or more) of them come October.