Archives For Summer Pro League

One of the more intriguing and controversial prospects heading into the draft was former Washington big man Robert Upshaw. The big man is undoubtedly talented, but also a player who went through more than his fair share of adversity by being suspended multiple times for marijuana use, ultimately being dismissed from two schools (Washington and Fresno St.).

Beyond those issues, Upshaw went through a medical “red flag” towards the tail end of the pre-draft workout process where a heart issue was discovered by doctors at the combine. This led to Upshaw suspending workouts for a period. He has since been cleared and did resume workouts before the draft.

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After the Lakers lost to the Sixers at Summer League, 83-61, Jordan Clarkson stopped by for a conversation.

Clarkson was asked about his progression in the four Summer League games he’s played.

“I’m trying to get used to the pace of the game. Playing at different speeds.”

He was then asked if he’s shown enough to impress the Lakers front office.

“Yeah, I think so. I’m just coming out here to compete and work hard. I’m trying to do that every time I step on the court.”

Clarkson then talked about playing alongsite Kendall Marshall and was asked if he had to play both guard spots.

“It’s interchangeable. Sometimes, it’s what coach calls. We just kinda rotate on what’s going on the court.”

Jordan raved about his fellow rookie, Julius Randle.

“He’s versatile. He can put the ball on the ground. I don’t think too many 6’10” guys can stay in front of him. And he’s athletic enough to finish and make plays. The dude’s a beast.”

Did he have a preference on which guard spot to play?

“No preference for me. Just a playmaker trying to make plays. Just doing what I can to help the team.”

Clarkson was asked about the biggest adjustment he had to make from college to the professional level.

“Just the pace. Sometimes, I play a little but too fast; I need to slow down. I’m still a rookie. I’m just going to keep learning and make sure I learn fast.”

I asked him what he was working on the most about his game.

“Just everything. My all-around game. My team chemistry, being able to make shots, make plays, create for others… it’s really everything.”

Jordan Clarkson has been impressive in Summer League thus far. He has no fear when it comes to penetration and wreaks some havoc on both ends of the court. Here’s to hoping he carries it over to his first NBA regular season.

The Lakers Summer League team hasn’t done well. They’re 1-3 thus far and lost to the Sixers SL team, 83-61, on Wednesday night. But we’re there to see how the Laker draft picks are performing.

Julius Randle has done pretty well thus far. Randle is averaging 12 points and four rebounds in three games he has played thus far. He has shown some flashes as an excellent player and has shown some versatility.

Randle was asked about him leading the break.

“It’s a part of my versatility. There are certain times you can do it. You just gotta read the defense and have a good feel for the game.”

Julius was asked about the transition to the NBA.

“I think it gets a lot easier, honestly. There’s more of a flow (in Summer League).”

When asked further about it…

“The spacing is way more because you just can’t collapse. Because if you do, somebody’s going to be wide open. What I’m seeing a lot is they’re either not collapsing, I got an open lane and they can’t guard me one-on-one or they’re collapsing and someone’s wide open and the passes are way easier. The spacing is the biggest difference from college to NBA.”

Julius was asked about his tendencies on the court.

“I like facing up first. A lot of times, guys are bigger, slower than me… not as athletic as me and I can use my athleticism and my skill set. So I like facing up whether it’s on the elbow, top of the key, block extended… that’s what I like doing. But I like grinding and being physical as well.”

He was then asked about his options when facing up.

“Honestly, it’s how the defense is playing me. If the guy wants to be physical, I’ll face him up. If it’s a smaller guy, I’m gonna take him to the post. The biggest difference from my first game and what I’m seeing now is I’m being more patient. I’m reading how the defenses are guarding me. From there, I’m able to operate and be more efficient.”

A lot of people have compared Randle’s game to Memphis power forward Zach Randolph. Randle seemed genuinely stunned and humbled by that comparison. I asked who he patterned his game after.

“Nobody. That’s very humbling, though. (Randolph) is a great player but I never compared or patterned my game after anybody.”

Randle was asked about how his experience with the Lakers fans in Summer League.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s kind of like Vegas is L.A. almost. So many people around everywhere I go whether it’s a cab or a restaurant, there’s Lakers fan and they know who you are. Obviously, you have the most fans here for the games. It’s kind of fun and ridiculous at the same time.

When asked if he was mentally prepared for the fans…

“I didn’t know it was going to be like this. Thought it was going to be JUST Summer League. I didn’t know that there were that many Laker fans out here in Vegas.”

Finally, he was asked about being drafted by the Lakers.

I know it’s the best possible place for me. I didn’t want to be anywhere else so I’m very happy that I was able to be chosen by the Lakers.”

And a lot of Laker fans are very happy that they got him with the 7th overall pick.

The Lakers are back in action tonight in summer league, facing off against the 76ers in the first round of the “tournament” that has become the second half of the LVSL.

And while the results of this game matter — if the Lakers win they advance, if they lose their summer league is over — I’m not really going to get worked up over what the final score is. If anything, I want them to win only so I get to see more of Julius Randle (and to a slightly lesser extent Jordan Clarkson).

Randle’s performanceĀ is, ultimately, the major takeaway from this team. While there are other players who have shown promise, it is the player who the Lakers selected 7th overall whose performance matters most.

In Randle’s first game he did not perform very well and looked like a player who had only signed his contract 20 minutes before tip-off while also doubling as someone who had not played much basketball in recent months. His timing was off, he looked a bit sluggish at times, and wasn’t able to find a rhythm.

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Assistant coach Mark Madsen is coaching the Lakers Summer League team. We caught up with him after their thrilling win last night against the Warriors.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: There’s no head coach yet. Thre’s really no system in place. What do you tell the guys out there?

MM: Well, we’re trying to run a lot of generic NBA sets more than anything. We’re trying to help guys learn the basics of the NBA. So right now a lot of stuff we put in, if the new head coach wants to use it, he can because it’s generic sets out of the NBA.

FB&G: Who’s impressed you the most thus far?

MM: A lot of guys impress me. Kendall Marshall, with the stabilizing influence. Julius Randle played a great game. He was aggressive, he attacked… he gave multiple efforts. DeAndre Kane had a big-time effort off the bench. Quinton Ross, who hadn’t played for a couple of camps, went out there and did a great job.

FB&G: The Lakers went through their worst season in forever. What have you, as an assistant coach, learned from this?

MM: You learn that you always keep working and you always keep trying. No matter how bad it looks, you have to continue onward, knowing that things can always change later.

FB&G: So why not you as head coach?

MM: *laughs* I don’t have the experience. Hopefully in five years, that’ll be a conversation we can have.

FB&G: That’s a long wait, man.

MM: Look, man. You gotta be patient.

We’d like to thank the always-awesome Mark Madsen for stopping by.

Kendall Marshall has an unguaranteed contract going into next season. He’s on the Lakers Summer League team and is averaging 8.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in three games. He stopped by to answer a few questions.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: You were out of the league for a bit before catching on with the Lakers. What did you learn from being out?

KENDALL MARSHALL: You can’t take this opportunity for granted. It was something that made me appreciate what I did have. And when it was taken from me… basketball, to me, is my life. So I felt like a big part of me was taken away. I’m extremely blessed to be in this situation I’m in now and I just want to take full advantage of it.

FB&G: What did Coach Madsen tell you to run out there? Or are they just letting you freestyle?

KM: We definitely have sets, plays that we call… things that we’ve been working on in practice. It’s a different offense than what I learned last year… I’m still learning.

FB&G: What do you intend to improve on for next season?

KM: One thing is remaining aggressive from the point guard position… not having them guard us four-on-five as well as just mastering the pace of the game and mastering getting guys open shots. And defensively, keeping point guards in front of me.

FB&G: What do you say to people who remark about your set shot?

KM: Look at guys that have been successful that have set shots. Guys like Andre Miller. It’s not all about shooting jumpshots. There’s a thousand ways to score a basketball. Guys like Mark Jackson. Guys that have been successful that didn’t jump 20 feet on jumpshots.

Much thanks to Kendall Marshall for a few minutes of his time.

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’.