Writing about this year’s Lakers’ summer league team brings a bit of a strange feeling. In a normal Lakers’ summer session, there might be one or two key players worth watching; players who we think might end up being a rotation player or someone with a bright future. This season, though, is radically different and offers fans a chance to see players they will be fully invested in come October.
Despite Kobe returning and the additions of Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass, and Lou Williams to the main team, there are at least four players — D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Tariq Black — heading to Vegas who can expect to have a key role when the regular season rolls around. Add to this group Anthony Brown (who, as it stands today, is probably 3rd on the depth chart at SF behind Kobe and Nick Young), Larry Nance Jr. (who, as a first round pick, may also see some minutes this year as deep reserve/energy player), and Robert Upshaw (a project big man who has first round talent with undrafted free agent baggage) there are a lot of reasons to be excited.
This is a talented group of players — almost surely the most talented summer league team the Lakers have ever fielded — and I’m interested in seeing what they can do against other touted rookies and second year players. After all, it’s one thing to play 5-on-5 in practice where the guys on the opposite side are teammates, know all your plays, and have seen all your tendencies for the last week plus. It’s quite another to face off against a fairly stacked T-Wolves team (like they will on Friday) that includes this year’s #1 overall pick and last year’s slam dunk contest winner.