Okay, I’m not going to say much about the Pelicans here since, well, summer league rosters are fluid and usually only have a handful of viable players who will be on the team by opening night. That leaves me knowing very little about their team and, in reality, not even really caring that much.
What these games come down to, then, aren’t the opponents but the Lakers. And with a roster full of young guys who are all candidates to be on the team come October, my eye will be on the talent the team has accumulated over the past couple of drafts.
First up is D’Angelo Russell who enters his second season looking to re-establish his value as a high end prospect. Last season wasn’t the poor campaign some would have you believe, but drama followed him and his play was up and down enough under Byron Scott that there are a lot of analysts down on him. And while I am not one of them, I am very interested in seeing him this summer.
After Russell, all eyes will be on Brandon Ingram. Word out of practices is that he is the “real deal” and that he has “god given talent” that “you cannot teach” — at least if you listen to Larry Nance, Jr. and Russell. So, I think we are all more than anxious to see the 18 year old on the floor for ourselves and in real game action.
Lastly, I am quite intrigued to see both Nance and rookie 2nd rounder Ivica Zubac. Has Nance added some range on his jumper? Will he dunk on the entire opposing team at least once? How are his ball skills progressing? I am looking for growth from Nance and this is the environment where he can start to move skills from practice to game situations.
As for Zubac, this isn’t a great place for big men to shine, but I am interested to see how he moves around the floor and how he fits within the offense. What types of screens does he set? How does he finish in the P&R? Can he rebound in traffic? Can he protect the rim? These are all things that he’ll be asked to do in game situations and I’m interested in seeing how it goes.
Ultimately, though, I’m just happy basketball is back — even if it’s not quite “NBA” basketball. Summer League is a place where at a lot of competing agendas try to blend as best they can to try and get results, both as individuals and as a team. The Lakers have more guys who are expected to be on the opening night roster than other teams, so the hope is that leads to more teamwork and a better chance to glean some meaningful insight. Let’s get it.