Archives For Summer Pro League

Filling Out the Roster

Darius Soriano —  July 22, 2013

Summer league is officially over for the Lakers. The group of players sent to Vegas competed hard and well, flashing their skill sets and, for a select few, were able to show off skill sets that will likely earn them invites to training camp in a couple of months.

The names that stood out most should be familiar by now, but I’ll repeat them anyway:

  • Marcus Landry. Landry is a combo forward who showed off a nice offensive skill set that includes range on his jumper and effective work off the dribble. He also competed well defensively, both on the wing and in the paint.
  • Elias Harris. Harris is rangy power forward who has a good combination of skills offensively with good enough athleticism to compete defensively and on the glass. He was a nice “glue” player for the team and was able to do a lot of the little things that helped the team win games, even if his individual numbers didn’t stand out.
  • Chris Douglas Roberts. Everyone knows that CDR can score well so it was nice to see him expand his game to include playmaking for others. He showed a willingness to attack off the dribble and, after drawing extra defenders, make good decisions to hit teammates with passes for open shots. He also defended well on the wing, a trait that he’ll need to show more of to make it in the NBA.
  • Robert Sacre. Sacre will never be an above the rim player or one who can use quickness to explode into space and be an athletic presence in the paint. That said, his smarts and understanding of positioning and angles give him a polish on both sides of the ball that stood out in Las Vegas. If he can start to hit his jumper with more consistency, he can be a rotation player in the league simply due to his combination of size, smarts, and emerging skill.
  • Lester Hudson. Hudson displayed a good offensive game and solid floor general skills. He didn’t always make the best decisions, but he played hard on both ends and proved that he could score and distribute on one end and pressure the ball and fight through screens on the other. Hudson is a smaller guard who doesn’t quite fit into what the Lakers still need on their roster at this point, but I liked what I saw from him overall.

Of the above players, I could see all of them but Hudson earning an invite to camp (with Sacre a definite since he’s signed for the next two seasons). It’s not that Hudson didn’t play well enough, but the Lakers already have three point guards on the roster and from a pure numbers standpoint he’d likely be better off trying to catch on with another team.

Who gains an invite to camp is pretty important because, though the Lakers have already made several signings, they are not yet a complete team. As of today, the Lakers have 11 players under contract for next season. Once rookie power forward Ryan Kelly is signed, he will make 12. The minimum roster amount is 13 and teams can carry up to 15 players. Typically the Lakers have preferred to have at least one open roster spot for flexibility purposes, so that likely leaves two open spots the team still needs to fill.

Who those players will be is an question that’s a long way from answering. The players above will get looks, there are still free agents on the market who could be signed (Lamar Odom’s name continues to float in the wind), and there’s players who did not play on the Lakers’ summer team who will earn camp invites (Shawne Williams is reportedly one such player). But even if we don’t yet know who the players will be, we do have an idea about what skills the team still lacks and the types of players who would best fill those gaps.

Here is an example of a potential depth chart:

Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string
PG Steve Nash Steve Blake Jordan Farmar
SG Kobe Bryant Jodie Meeks
SF Nick Young Wesley Johnson
PF Jordan Hill Ryan Kelly
C Pau Gasol Chris Kaman Robert Sacre

You can quibble with whether or not Blake or Farmar will back up Nash, and if Hill will really start at PF or if the team will start both Pau and Kaman together. We’ll get answers to those questions eventually. But, as of today, above is what the Lakers have in mind with the moves they’ve made this summer and in getting everyone back healthy.

What that depth chart shows is that the Lakers are still a bit thin on the wing and at the PF spot. Sure, Blake could (and probably will) play some shooting guard. And Pau can always play some power forward next to Kaman (or even Sacre if it comes to that). But, even with that versatility on hand, the Lakers could still use another wing who can play SF and another big man who can player PF.

If the players brought in to fill those spots can play multiple positions, even better, but that’s not a requirement since the team already has a fair amount of versatility already. But, ultimately, the team needs another big man who can play ahead of Ryan Kelly and another wing to hedge the bet they’ve made on Wesley Johnson. Guys from the summer team — CDR, Harris, Landry — can fill those holes, as can guys currently on the street — Odom and Williams. But the fact is, the Lakers still need to sign at least one player and probably two if only to get enough depth on the team at every position to field a complete roster.

There’s still time for this stuff to play out and over the next month or so we’ll have more insight into what the Lakers plan to do. But from where we stand now, there’s still a bit of work to do even though the front office has already done a good job of signing capable players in free agency.

The Lakers played one hell of a Summer League game against the Warriors that got the crowd poppin’. Still, the Lakers fell short, 83-77, after the Warriors’ Kent Bazemore went off for 26 points.

The Lakers played really well in the second quarter, possibly their best in Summer League. But they fell apart in the third quarter when the bench came in for them. They lost their momentum then and the Warriors, who haven’t lost a Summer League game in forever, took advantage. L.A. had a spirited comeback but ultimately couldn’t complete it.

A few tidbits.

*I sure hope Elias Harris gets an invite somewhere. He ran the floor, shot the three well, and was just an energetic guy throughout the game (well, throughout LVSL, really). I think he belongs somewhere in the NBA. Harris finished with 17 points.

*Marcus Landry continued his excellent play. Though he got off to a slow start, he kept popping in those three-pointers off pick-and-rolls and kickoffs. I would be shocked if he doesn’t get a training camp invite. He had 14 points in the game.

*Chris Douglas-Roberts came alive in the second quarter and continued to do the little things like initiating the offense and helping out on defense. CDR didn’t shoot well but he finished with 12 points.

*Robert Sacre continued to clean up on the boards and, throughout this Summer League, was getting better on the post and positioning himself to get the rebounds. Sacre only had six points but had 10 boards.

*Lester Hudson played well again with 18 points. But, again, there’s simply no room for him in L.A.

*Lazar Hayward was frustrating but he’s the best at cherrypicking.

*Josh Selby, what happened?

The Lakers’ Summer League is over but there were some good signs and while this SL team won’t be indicative of what the current Laker team will be, we did see some young guys that we hope that we’ll see on the Laker team this season. Maybe there will be room for CDR. Maybe there will be something for Marcus Landry. But it was good to see the Laker system used well in Summer League by the younguns’.

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:

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In their second game of the Las Vegas Summer League, the Lakers dominated a talented Portland Trailblazers squad to secure their first summer league victory in almost two years. Tonight they will face the Clippers who have some young talent on their roster including the #25 overall pick in Reggie Bullock.

Excellent ball movement along with defensive intensity has been the main takeaway from the Lakers summer league team this year.  All the guys on the roster have seemingly bought in to Dan D’Antoni’s philosophy, and have refrained from a me-first attitude for the sake of impressing the Lakers coaching staff and management.

For some, the approach of being unselfish has worked. Guys like Robert Sacre, Marcus Landry, and Michael Snaer have stood out the most in that aspect. Sacre has been primarily active defensively, anchoring the interior and using his energy to protect the paint. Landry has been the most intriguing player on the roster. He’s shown a wide variety of skills that make him a likely candidate to get an invite to camp. His ability to shoot, defend, and perhaps even play the power-forward position all make him an attractive fit in a system like D’Antoni’s. As for Snaer, his shooting, paired with his ability to score and create for others in the pick-and-roll makes him a guy that I could see the Lakers taking a look at for added depth at the wing positions.

Other guys like Chris Douglas-Roberts and Josh Selby haven’t had much success so far in summer league, and that possibly could be attributed to the systematic fashion in which the Lakers are playing. CDR has been fairly passive through two games, opting to stand in the corner or wing and shoot three-pointers. At times his penetration is effective at drawing fouls, but for the most part it seems that he is a non-factor largely due to being un-involved. Josh Selby has been fairly disappointing as a result of his inability to run the point-guard position and make proper decisions off the dribble. As long as he fails to show teams he can’t play that position, he’ll have a tough time making a roster, and he’s slowly placing himself in that unfortunate predicament.

Regarding the matchup itself, it’s key not to pay attention to the result, but recognizing what guys out there look like they could fit on the final roster. Yes it’s the Clippers, but it’s also the summer. Summer league isn’t about wins and losses (though it’s being emphasized more now). Sit back and enjoy some Lakers basketball. One of these guys could be a Laker on opening night, the question is, who?

 

The Lakers first summer league game yielded a 70-62 defeat to the Cavs, but offered a few good performances to build on. Today, they hit the floor for their second game, this time facing a game Portland Trailblazer team who brings some good talent to Las Vegas.

Last season’s rookie of the year Damian Lillard may not be playing, but the Blazers’ other first round pick Meyers Leonard is and he brings with him this year’s 1st round selection C.J. McCollum, a dynamic scorer who can create his own shot very well. Joining those two are 2nd year pros Thomas Robinson (the #5 pick in last year’s draft), Will Barton, Joel Freeland, and Victor Claver as well as rookie Allen Crabbe. This is one of the more stacked summer league teams you’ll find and you should not be surprised if they outclass a Lakers team that isn’t sporting the same type of talented players with first round pedigrees.

That said, the Lakers will go out and compete as they did against the Cavs and the hope is that they can continue to play hard, share the ball, and grasp what the coaches are tying to drill into them. Here are a few things to watch for:

*Can Marcus Landry put in another good game? Landry possesses a solid skill set for a wing player and flashed his ability to knock down the outside shot. The latter is a skill the Lakers can always use more of and if he can continue to knock down jumpers he could easily get an invite to camp even though the Lakers have signed Nick Young and Wes Johnson in free agency.

*Can Sacre continue to hit the mid-range jumper? One of the most important skills a big man in Mike D’Antoni’s system can have is the ability to hit a 15 foot jumper. Having this shot in your arsenal makes you a dual threat in the P&R where you can pop out after screens and still be a threat as well as dive hard to the rim as a threat to score in the paint. Sacre showed last year that he has the ability to dive hard to the cup and at least threaten the defense. But without a viable jumper, teams only have to account for him one way and that limits his utility. Having a mid-range jumper also helps in the HORNS actions the team likes to run, since the big men camp out at the elbow area when those sets are initiated. Knocking down that shot with relative consistency makes you a threat to score that defenses must respect as the screen actions on the weak side take place. I don’t expect Sacre to beat out Kaman for minutes next year, but if he can continue to grow as an offensive threat he can at least challenge for minutes.

*Speaking of HORNS, the Lakers ran this action a lot on Friday and got some good looks out of those sets. These are actions many teams run in the summer because they’re relatively easy to learn and incorporate motion into the half court offense rather than promoting the type of isolation plays that can so easily develop in this environment. That said, the Lakers ran a lot of HORNS during the regular season last year and running those same sets now can help players’ learning curves if they do get a camp invite. So, be on the lookout for players who look most comfortable in these sets, especially the big men who operate as passers, shooters, and screeners from the elbows.

*Chris Douglass-Roberts watch, day 2. CDR had some moments on Friday but mostly moved the ball rather than attacking. It’s clear the coaches are stressing ball movement and I can appreciate everyone doing their part to buy into the game plan. I also think, for a guy that can score as easily as CDR, it’s not that important that he try to consistently get his own in this environment. That said, a few more attacking moves from would be nice and some assertiveness in looking for his own shot when open on the wing would be appreciated.