Archives For Summer Pro League

Last season, the Lakers had what may have been one of the worst Summer League teams in NBA history. They went through the summer league session without recording a win, and looked awful in all of their losses. For their first game of this year’s Summer League, the Lakers fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 70-62, but there were some positives to take away from this game and some things to keep an eye on as the Summer League progresses.

One of the more glaring things that stood out in this game, especially in the first half, was the team’s willingness to share the ball. Guys were constantly looking to make the extra pass and find their teammates. There were a few times where a back side cutter was missed, and a few times where they were a bit over zealous with their passing, and it led to some turnovers. Even though it won’t show up in the assist numbers (only 11 on the game), I really enjoyed this team’s willingness to share the ball — especially in a situation where everyone is essentially competing with each other for an opportunity to get an invite to training camp.

The team defense was a bit suspect, especially in the second half. Once the Cavaliers started to finally make some jumpers, perimeter defenders started to close out a little harder, making it easier for shooters to get to the rim and compromise the rotations. As expected, the rotations weren’t sharp for the most part, and that led to a few easy buckets for the Cavs front court guys, things you’d expect from a team that hasn’t exactly spent a lot of time together.

Here are a few things that particularly stood out from individual players.

  • In the Lakers first Summer League game, Marcus Landry was the most impressive over the course of the game. Landry finished with 14 points on eight shots. He hit three-of-eight from three, and got in the lane to draw foul shots. He scored 10 of his 14 in the third quarter, and kept the Lakers in the game when the Cavs started finding their shot. Landry was also aggressive on the defensive end in stretches. He has some nice size at 6-7, 225 and used that to his advantage when defending smaller guys.
  • Robert Sacre, the only guy we know for sure who will actually suit up for the Lakers next season, had a fairly decent game. They ran a lot of HORNS, and Sacre was able to knock down the mid range jumper a couple times early in the first, which was a nice sign for the team. That’s one of the things Mike D’Antoni would like to see out of his young bigs. If Sacre can find a way to stretch the floor a bit, even if it’s just bringing his defender out to about 15-feet, will earn him some minutes this season. He still looked a bit raw on the defensive end of the floor, but he continues to work hard when he has minutes. Early on, he was really scrappy on the boards and created a couple of second chance opportunities.
  • Elias Harris had some really strong points in tonight’s opening game. Harris was most impressive when attacking the rim. There was a play early in the first where he took the ball strong to the rim, used his body well to fend off the defender and finished. Harris also wasn’t too bad off the ball, constantly moving without the rock in his hands and cutting when opportunities presented themselves. Harris was one of the backside cutters that was missed a few times, but was found on a gorgeous drive from Josh Selby and finished with a dunk in the third quarter.

Overall, the first game was pretty much what you would expect from an inaugural Summer League game. A lot of feeling out both teammates and the opponent in a sloppy first half. Things got a bit better in the second half, but it wasn’t exactly great basketball. Regardless of the results, this year’s Summer League team looks a bit better than last year’s rendition, and they’ll have opportunities to win some games this season. I don’t expect them to win this year’s new NCAA style tournament, but they’ll be competitive in some games, and we’ll get some good looks at some guys who can potentially get an invite to camp.

The Lakers, or at least an incarnation of them, will be on the floor tonight in Las Vegas for their first game of the LVSL. They’ll face the Cavs who will have some good talent on their team — though #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett will not suit up.

For the Lakers this is a chance to see some young players — some familiar, some not — play in some live game action and get a sense for whether or not they are candidates for an invite when training camp starts in October. The entire roster can be found here, but there are some interesting names to keep an eye on. Some of the few I’ll be watching closely:

Continue Reading…

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  July 18, 2012

While the Steve Nash signing was a giant step forward, there’s still holes to fill on the Lakers roster. And as the front office looks to do its business, the media’s merry go-round continues, with Dwight Howard scenarios tending toward the 24-hour news cycle variety. One day the Lakers are pushing hard. The next day Houston’s got a plan. There’s some truth to all of the rumors, given that discussions are as they say, fluid.  C.A. Clark at Silver Screen and Roll notes, it’s mostly reporting for reporting’s sake. Still, it’s hard not to buy in to some degree, and if we weren’t all hungry for spoon-fed items, there would be no need for links posts, right? Open wide!

Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLA, offer up the latest on the Lakers attempts to sign the league’s top big man.

Mike Bresnahan at the L.A. Times also weighs in, on the complexities of completing a Howard swap.

The Antwan Jamison situation is still in limbo, as reported by Janis Carr at the OC Register.

Mike Trudell at NBA.com’s Lakers blog, writes about the team’s 4th straight loss last night in Summer League play, while noting Darius Morris’s improved effort.

NBA.com has video of Jim Buss chatting at the Summer League games.

Yannis Koutroupis at Hoopsworld has an extensive interview with Jermaine O’Neal, about where he feels his game, health and career is at.

Andrew Greif at Dime, has Kobe talking Olympic trash to Pau.

Suki Thind at Lakers Nation says Metta is here to stay, and it’s a good thing.

Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated, examines the closing days of the Jeremy Lin saga, and the unwritten rule that Houston broke to get him.

***

Between now and later, there will undoubtedly be something new to report – there’s simply too many balls in the air. Grant Hill’s off the list now that he signed with the Clippers. The Lakers haven’t yet signed Devin Ebanks, which offers a bit of additional flexibility as various matters are discussed and debated. Brandon Rush worked out for the Lakers yesterday (along with Jermaine O’Neal), but it’s hard to see Golden State letting him walk. And then there’s the various amnesty situations – the Birdman was dropped right before midnight last night. For now we wait, read and wonder.

– Dave Murphy

With Summer League in full swing and the Lakers still looking to fill out their roster, there’s lots to discuss in Laker-land. So, lets jump right in…

  • The Lakers’ summer league team is winless so far and has had some truly horrible performances in their first few contests. They got blasted by the Warriors in their opening game and were trounced by 50 a few nights later against the Heat. While this is somewhat discouraging, don’t invest too heavily in the results. The Lakers don’t have a lottery level talent on their team. Their roster is full of players who are trying to fight for spots ten through fifteen on a roster, not for a starting gig. What we learn about this “team” is not important; we’re really looking at the growth of the individual players and evaluating their individual skill level.
  • Even evaluating the players as individuals is somewhat tricky, however. The summer team doesn’t have a single player that will ever be a featured guy within an offense. This roster is filled with role players whose talents will be maximized playing off of their more talented teammates (should they make the regular season roster). When you put 5 role players on the floor together, the results (offensively) will be what the Lakers have seen so far – tight defense, little spacing, and no one able to create the types of plays that generate sustained worthwhile basketball.
  • In yesterday’s game against the Spurs, the Lakers made adjustments with their schemes and that led to better spacing and ball movement. These tweaks compensated for the limited individual talent on their roster. But those adjustments only got them so far. It allowed for more space on the wing to operate off the dribble and more space for the post players to work in isolation. It opened up better passing angles for cutters. And, their improved effort put them in better positions to take advantage. But, in the end, this group was out talented again and lost by double figures.
  • All that said, we are starting to get a better picture of what types of talents these guys are. Darius Morris is showing that he can be a threat in the open court and in attacking the rim off the dribble in the half court. His size allows him to bully smaller defenders to get to the spots on the floor where he can be successful. His finishing is still up and down, however, and his jumper needs a lot of work. But, he’s showing more confidence in each game and his attack mentality has served him well so far. He certainly likes to pound the ball when probing the D, but that’s the case for most attack guards that create off the dribble as often as he does.
  • Andrew Goudelock looks like the same guy he was last year. His lack of size is giving him some issues on both sides of the floor and his lack of burst is making it hard for him to shake free from bigger defenders. His jumper has been off but we know he’s a better shooter than he’s shown so I’m not as concerned there. However, he’s still not shown much of an ability to create for others. He’s worked a lot in the pick and roll but rarely hits the roll man (who’s been open several times) and typically only gives the ball up when he’s exhausted his opportunity to score for himself. I’ve long believed that for Goudelock to stick in this league he’ll have to show adequate ability to initiate an offense and be a lead guard. So far, we’re not seeing it. Some of that may be what the coaches are asking him to do, but his instinct is to score first (and second) and his playmaking is suffering because of it.
  • Darius Johnson-Odom has shown some good qualities – he’s an active defender, possesses good court vision, and knows how to create his own shot. He’s also shown that he can initiate an offense and has no issues taking an outlet pass and running a delayed fast break. He shows good footwork in setting up his own shot and has a very nice shot fake that’s earned him trips to the foul line. However, his jumper hasn’t been falling even when he’s been getting open looks. This could simply be a small sample and nothing to worry about. But, he’ll need to hit shots eventually if he wants to stick.
  • Christian Eyenga looks like the most pro-ready player the Lakers have but that shouldn’t surprise considering he’s their most seasoned player. His athleticism is as advertised – he’s had several above the rim finishes – and he’s mostly been under control when displaying it. He’s shown a nice little post game too, working over defenders from 10 feet and it with good strength and solid footwork. His jumper is not good, however and that limits what he can do on that end of the floor. Defensively, he’s been above average. His quickness, instincts, and desire to get into his man have all been plusses.
  • The surprise of this team, at least for me, has been Robert Sacre. He’s a bit stiff in his movement but he knows how to use his big body to his advantage. He aggressively fights for position on both ends of the floor, has shown nice touch on his mid-range jumper and his jump hook, and he plays hard. His biggest asset, though, looks to be his smarts. He knows where to be on both ends of the floor and seems to have a strong spatial awareness. He knows where to move to in the P&R game to get open and has made a few smart cuts to position himself under the rim where he’s been active on the offensive glass. In one of the games an announcer compared Sacre to Michael Doleac and that seems apt. Sacre has shown a bit more aggressiveness around the rim than Doleac used to, but all and all they have similar games. Doleac stuck in the league for a while as a back up big man and Sacre may be able to do the same.
  • Moving beyond the Summer League team, the Lakers are still in the middle of a lot of rumors. There’s been reports that Antawn Jamison will “choose” the Lakers soon. Yesterday the Lakers were present at a workout for Jermaine O’Neal who, after having the orthokine treatment that Kobe’s become the poster boy for, is looking to continue his playing career. Reports of how he looked in that workout have been mixed (I’ve read one tweet say he didn’t look mobile while others stated he looked as good as he has in the last 4-5 years), but he remains on the Lakers’ radar. Brandon Rush was also at that workout so the Lakers also got a look at the Warriors restricted free agent.
  • And then, of course, there’s still the pursuit of Dwight Howard. Reports had the Lakers meeting with reps from the Magic yesterday in what was described as a “hard push” to acquire the Magic big man. During the Lakers/Spurs game, Jim Buss commented (per team policy) that he had “no comment” about reports that there were negotiations going on. At ProBasketball Talk, Kurt Helin had a logical take, basically saying that there should be no expectation a deal gets done when neither Howard nor Bynum have (seemingly) changed their stances about re-signing with LA/Orlando should a trade happen. I tend to agree with this. It’s worth having the talks because you always try to make a move that improves your team, but expecting something to happen at this point is optimistic.
  • One thing I also wonder here is if there’s a point of no return with the Lakers and these Andrew Bynum trade talks. This is the longest he’s ever had his name floated in what seem to be legitimate trade rumors. For years his name was out there, but those reports were quickly shot down from the Lakers side (be it Jason Kidd, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, or anyone else you can think of). However, this time, these reports seem to have legs and Bynum certainly seems available in a deal for Howard. Whether this is really something to worry about isn’t something I have any inside information on. However, I wonder if there’s a stop point where the Lakers simply call off their discussions with the Magic and make nice with the all-star Center they have in house. You can only window shop so often before you either have to make a purchase or go home and keep with your same wardrobe. I wonder when the Lakers are going to make that call. Remember, Bynum is a FA after next season as well and if nothing happens with Howard, the Lakers will surely want Bynum back for the long haul. If these talks go on for too much longer, does a long term commitment from Bynum get put in jeopardy? These are questions that need to be asked.

After the game between the Lakers’ summer league team and the Golden State Warriors (the Lakers looked like a disaster but, hey, it’s Summer League!), we talked to Lakers assistant and summer league coach Chuck Person about a few topics.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: The key young guys like (Darius) Morris and (Andrew) Goudelock. What do you need for them to improve?

ASST. COACH CHUCK PERSON: They need to come out and slow down. Obviously, the summer league guys come out and they’re frantic with their breakneck pace. We need to have them slow down, see the game, make the right play, make the right pass, and then defend. The one thing that a Mike Brown team does is we defend so we need to make sure they do that first.

FB&G: Do you expect them to be contributors on the bench next year?

PERSON: Well, there’s an opportunity. We have a core group that we play with but there’s a chance for a guy like Goudelock to come in… Christian Eyenga… and Darius Morris to get some minutes. If they come out and do the right things and impress Mike and our staff, I think they have a chance to play.

FB&G: What was the biggest problem last season?

PERSON: Down the stretch, we didn’t score the ball like we thought we could. We only shot 42 percent in the playoffs and our defense struggled a little bit, at times. For the most part, we played okay. We just ran up against a tough Oklahoma City team.

FB&G: And, lastly, Steve Nash. You have to be excited for this one.

PERSON (smiles): Well, one of the greatest point guards of all-time. He knows how to run a team. He can facilitate very well and he can make threes. So we’re looking forward to having him our team and being able to get more guys involved in our offense.

We’d like to thank Coach Person for his time as well as Lakers’ PR John Black for letting us have access.