For the third time in four days the Lakers will play a summer league game at the Thomas & Mack center. They were able split those first two games — losing to the T-Wolves but recovering against the 76ers — and now find themselves taking on the Knicks.
To this point, as their record indicates, the team’s performance has been a bit of a mixed bag. The only consistent performer has been Jordan Clarkson with every other player mixing flashes of their potential with moments I’m sure they would want a do-over on. This is what summer league is about, though. Even the young players — especially the rookies — who get their numbers will likely find more than a few mistakes and learning moments when dissecting their game on film.
The point is to get your feet went and, in the process, hopefully show enough positives to build on heading into training camp. From the Lakers’ side, things are certainly moving well in that direction. I can understand fans wanting to see more, but, in reality, this is what summer league is about. With that, here are a handful of things I’ll be looking for when the team takes the floor against the Knicks:
- I do not believe D’Angelo Russell is so much more athletic than he’s shown in the first two games, but I also do not think he has his legs fully under him right now. The team was having heavy practices leading up to Summer League and then played games on back to back nights where he logged 27 and than 33 minutes. Yes, he’s young, but after not playing in meaningful games since March, getting back on the floor into full bore practices has probably had some affect on him. I am interested in seeing how he plays today after a day off.
- Keeping on the Russell theme, my thoughts on him have not really wavered since he was drafted. His passing and court vision are special. His jumper, though not falling at the rate anyone would want, looks pure with a great release point. He plays with a poise and confidence beyond his 19 years. In saying all that, he’s mostly only using the P&R when orchestrating the offense and hasn’t yet gotten many (any?) opportunities to run off screens or attack a defense closing out on him when he’s spotting up on the weakside. In other words, we’ve seen a fraction of what his game actually is (and what I think it will be down the line). In other words, I know some fans are getting antsy. I’d advise against putting too much into what we’re seeing since what the team is running offensively in the half court really isn’t doing much to highlight any of his skills beyond his passing ability.
- Speaking of the Lakers’ sets, I don’t expect them to change much in this environment, but I would like to see them play with a bit more tempo in the actions they are running. Certainly some of this is the product of them not knowing each other or having a firm grasp of the sets. But, as the deeper we get into the summer, it would be nice to see them start to work off the ball with more urgency and start to be tighter in how they execute. Yes, I know, it’s the summer, but a man can hope, right?
- The match up I am looking forward to most is Julius Randle against Kristaps Porzingis. Randle was clearly disappointed in having to sit out Saturday’s game. I expect him to come out active and aggressive. Matching his strength and physicality against Porzingis’ slender frame and length will be an interesting contrast to watch. Porzingis should be able to shoot over the top of Randle when match up in space. But Randle will likely try to bully him into the paint and take away his length advantage on the other end. It should be fun to watch them go at it.
- Will we get more “Larry!” chants? Nance Jr. has shown off the skill set and energy that surely caught the front office’s eye in the lead up to selecting him in the first round. His athleticism stands out in a major way and he’s flashing the type of value he can bring to a team should he continue to refine his game (making a couple of jumpers when the ball is kicked out to him would be a nice place to start).
- I’ve only caught a little bit of the Knicks to this point, but they are sticking with their Triangle offense even in the summer. Filling the post, quick cuts off the post entry, and some nice off-ball movement was the norm in the few glimpses I got of them. It will be interesting to see how the Lakers’ defense responds to ball and player movement after seeing a lot of P&R against the Wolves and a post heavy attack from the Sixers.
I watched Kristaps play very disciplined, effective one-on-one defense in his first game. Didn’t leave the ground to alter shots. Didn’t bite on fakes. Relied on verticality. He also started at C, so he will be matched up with Black and Upshaw.
I am enjoying Russell so much. He has so much Steve Nash it is crazy. Passing skills are on another level (his turnovers are because his teammates aren’t used to receiving those kinds of passes, but once they do open shots galore). His defense is actually better on the ball and worse off the ball (feel like he will eventually get it). He probes so well that the next coach will build around this (Byron won’t, but the Lakers I believe want to have no coach as a selling point next year to Durant and Horford). Russell also has a good stroke (which will drop in time. Good shooters eventually find their stroke). Also people need to remember summer league is not NBA basketball. Wade averages in summer league: 13 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 4.6 APG. Durant scored 24 PPG but shot 33%. Derrick Rose: 9.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2 RPG. Harden: 14.5 PPG, 3.3 APG, 3 RPG. Curry: 17.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.2 APG and shot 32.5%.
Or how about Anthony Randolph: 26.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG shooting 60%. Anthony Morrow: 24.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, shooting 60%. Or how about Nick Young: 23.8 PPG, 50% shooting (in the same year Curry shot 32.5%). Adam Morrison: 20.8 PPG, 5 RPG, shooting 42%.
Also for those curious the leader in PPG right now in summer league: Byrce Cotton at 28 PPG at 53% shooting 5 RPG, 4 APG. Towns is at 10 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.5 BPG shooting 38%. Russell is 11 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.5 APG shooting 30%. So does anyone think that Bryce Cotton is going to be better than everyone else? Stop watching summer league and thinking a guy needs to be finished product. And open up how you watch it.
Teamn: You know me well. “Interesting” is certainly not something I like, but my real annoyance is with “better than expected” and especially with “fun”.
Russell: It is a bit early to bury him, but it is also a bit early to compare to MVPs.
All one on one….Any coaching going on?……
Fire the coach!
Russell is just not as far along as most people were expecting, plain and simple.
Let’s be objective about this:
– the jump shot has looked average, that is a “feel thing,” so let’s let that rest.
– it’s obvious that on ball pressure bothers him on the offensive end.
-his lack of explosion, really only enables him to create out of the pick and roll, in the half court.
-for every great pass, there is one that is off, or misses his target. (1st play of the 3rd summer league game, for example).
-he has really been trying to force things on offense in the half court. The most concerning part, is that his lack of athleticism is what has put him in these tough spots.
I approved of for the pick, so I’m not saying this in a condescending way. But I let’s be honest, he is a loooong way from starting PG caliber right now. Additionally, I think a talent stripped roster will really magnify his deficiencies… Using a football analogy, I see Russell as a QB that needs weapons to make him an effective PG on offense.
At the same time, I advocated hard for Mudiay, as the 2nd best player in this draft (behind KAT). And I stand buy that. Mudiay has a presence about him that I hope D’Angelo can emulate.
Coaching is bad……Team not prepared…No defense….no passing….embarrassing. ….
Ok fire me. Madden is a worse coach then he is a dancer.
Madden is a worse ciach then he was as a dancer!
That first quarter was pig ugly. I mean ugly. Ugly. Ugggly.
The amount of kids turning their back to the ball is damning of high school and collegiate programs. Defense shouldn’t be optional.
Lakers with no penetration. Dudes are standing around on the weak side instead of running the actions. Reminds me of last regular season. Fortunately it’s just Summer league.
Russell has crazy good handles. Looks like he just took the training wheels of his bike.
Nick kinda agree.
3rd team and at this early point each of their top picks look better. Not sure he is going to be starter. Might see more Williams then we expected. Turnovers and defense biggest concerns I see. Hope I am very wrong.
Lucky they reduced the spread to 5. If this trend continues, Vets will take over the regular season. Where is the explosion oftenly hyped on Randle? Growing pains compounded by injury would take sometime to make him NBA ready. Maddog should change that tempo of “dribble-dribble one on one” that’s purely basketball at the park.
The D has been improve since the middle of the 2nd quarter, but as others are pointing out, the offense is too 1-on-1 the ball sticking with DAR and Clarkson (and sometimes Randle) too much.
Ummm i didnt see any turnover because russells teammates screwed up i just saw bad passes and trying to jump into 3 defenders again just like the past 2 games
Russell looks like the lemon out of the top 4 right now
Hope im wrong
Sorry for the typos ^
Last thing I’m going to say is, the turnovers are the product of Russell’s “gifted passing.” He is trying too hard. A player with great feel for the game, knows when to pick his spots.
I really do believe he is just a little nervous, and will be fine. He’s just not living up to the immediate expectations, which is only natural, since they were so high.
Boy Randel looks like a low 2nd rounder. I see nothing.
Laker offense a blend of selfishness and passivity.
Randle and Russell….neither has hops….both have trouble scoring over the top.Nance has hops but in reality. …not much more.J. Brown looks like he can score….
19 tirn overs in 60 minutes for Russell.
This guy may need a ton of work. He is playing against rookies and D league players.
And they tanked a season for that? Ohhhhhh Mitch?
Pull Clarkson for the rest of Summer league. I don’t think he’s going to get much more out of this. The play is too sloppy to get mutual rhythm. Randle needs to ball the rest of the Summer and learn to relax. He’s gripping while trying to shake the rust off. I’m really curious how they plan to develop Russell. I haven’t learned much about him yet after a game and a half.
Ryan P says
Is this an intentional non coaching effort?
Biggest take away is one day off in Vegas for young guys is normally a bad thing when on business.
@Keno @Shaun umm I completely disagree. They are making mistakes in summer league. Nothing I have seen says anything about the long term potential of players. Randle gets by his defender with ease. Russell is a gifted passer and has an out of this world basketball IQ. If you want ready made players trade down in the draft and take juniors and seniors. Guys like Jeremy Grant look better now because they are 23 year old men with 2-3 years more experience. In 3 years Russell and Randle will 22 and 23 and be light years ahead of Grant. Please read what I posted about Rose, Harden, Curry etc. So many young stars looked horrible in summer league. Guys like Anthony Randolph and Adam Morrison dominated summer league. Both are out of the league while Rose (before injury), Curry, and Harden were MVP level players.
The important thing is to see flashes and notice where they will likely improve. For Russell you can see he can A) run an offense like a natural PG, B) shoot the ball, C) get steals and disrupt things with his length, D), make passes that only two PG can currently make in the NBA (CP3 and Rubio). As for things that will improve A) taking risk that lead to turn overs, B) driving into traffic, and C) defensive awareness off the ball.
For Randle A) gets past his man on almost every play, B) is stronger than anyone, this allows for post up opportunities and can”t be bumped off his drives, C) rebounds in traffic, and D) moves his feet on defense at a quick rate. Things that will likely improve A) learning to read the defense and thus not running into doubles and learning to pass after the double is committed, B) learning the flight of the ball for rebounding easy boards, C) taking his time, and D) gaining confidence in his outside shot.