After a game which saw a loss on the scoreboard and in Larry Nance, Jr. with a supposed broken hand (more on that in a minute), the Lakers are worse for their wear and back in action tonight in Las Vegas. After that game fans were all sorts of upset — at Nance’s injury, at the coaching staff for not playing the starting 5 down the stretch, and at the players (specifically D’Angelo Russell) for poor play in the 2nd half which cost the team the lead and then the game.
I get the frustration. At least partially. Winning games, as the team had in Vegas up to that point, generates investment and buy-in. Fans want to watch and, when they do, want to be rewarded. Seeing the team lose in the fashion they did is upsetting and inspires venting. I get it. I really do.
On the other hand. This is summer league. While the I understand the hypocrisy in trying to claim the good performances and wins matter but the losses don’t, I think it’s fair to say that what really matters is overall team progress and how it measures against tangible steps backwards. While the 2nd half of Thursday’s game wasn’t pretty, the progress from the first 3 games outpaces the steps back from that lone contest.
So, yeah. It’s only summer league, but I think we’ve seen plenty to be excited about moving forward. If anything, Thursday was a nice reminder that even with the progress we have seen, there is still plenty more to achieve. This is exciting. Well, to me it is.
Also, not all the news from last night is actually all that bad. Larry Nance actually didn’t break his hand. It’s only a sprain. He is listed as day to day (aren’t we all?) and while he will not play in the Lakers’ Vegas finale, he won’t miss too much time. So, aren’t you feeling better already? I am.
As for tonight’s game, here are a few things I am looking for…
- No more injuries. I’m serious. No more.
- More Brandon Ingram playmaking. Coming into the draft it was said Ingram was a good passer and a fine all-court player. He wasn’t at Ben Simmons’ level as a passer, but he was good for his size and knew how to play. Well, we’ve seen that this summer and it is great to see. He makes good reads, picks out teammates for good looks, and is very willing as a passer. I love this aspect of his game and want to continue to see more of it.
- More Zubac, please. I love watching this kid play.
- More Zach Auguste in the open court. Who knew Auguste could push the ball as a grab and go guy? I certainly didn’t. I’m not yet sure if this is a real part of his game or not, but let’s give him more chances to prove it is or isn’t.
- A bounce back from Russell. D’Angelo has been great in Vegas overall. He was pretty bad in the 2nd half against the Cavs, though. He missed shots, wasn’t a good passer, and though he tried to lock up on defense and took the challenge of trying to guard Jordan McRae, he ultimately didn’t really get any stops. Some good minutes on both sides of the ball would be nice.
- No injuries. Oh, I said that already? So what.
This is the team’s last game this summer so savor it and enjoy it as best you can. We might get some USA Select Team updates next week on Russell, Randle, and Ingram, but our days of dedicated Lakers’ basketball are coming to an end for a little while. So try to get your fix now.
That is sort of great news regarding Nance’s hand. The way he was holding his arm when he rolled over made me think he might have a broken collar bone. Then the broken hand was better news and now this. Nance came through for his to do list up to that point so maybe others will follow through tonight.
Best game by far for Ingram tonight. That jumper is just butter.
Zubac doing a great job protecting the rim and crashing the offensive glass.
On the downside, Brown STILL can’t hit a jumpshot…
Would it be totally insane to talk about starting Zubac?
Liking Zubac. Lakers have a second round steal. Looking forward to seeing him in the pre-season.
Brown is having a great fourth quarter. Finally started hitting some jumpers, then drives to the cup for a nice 3-point play.
_Craig W says
Yup! It would be insane to talk about starting him. However, he may make it hard to play him much in the D-League, i.e. he may be the #2 center against certain clubs. He simply has too many basketball skills to keep him on the bench.
_Craig W says
Joel_ Brown really needed a good game this summer; otherwise he might simply disappear from the club, except that his defense may mean he will have situational value in certain player combinations.
Man!! Ingram is going to be sooo good. Only 18 and his game is so well rounded already. He is going to be something else. I can see it already. They made him the go to guy tonight and he delivered. Zubac needs to be in the roster opening night. He belongs in the NBA. Not starting right away same as Ingram but i see him becoming second in the depth chart behind Mozgov, he looks better than Tarik Black already, another well rounded player. Man, give this young core 2 to 3 years. There is real potential here.
_Craig W Joel_ I agree, his defence will always be there but he needs to hit jumpers to really earn minutes. He’s showing a bit more all-around game in Summer League but most of those skills won’t be in use much with Clarkson, Russell, Randle, etc. on the court.
Ingram and Zubac are amazing players. We really added some quality future stars to our core. The Lakers have an exciting path going forward, and it feels so good to be a Laker fan again!
Good to see Brown hit some shots. I just hope he doesn’t get carried away and think he’s a go to guy; as I can see the freedom the new coaching staff is implementing going to his head.
Ingram and Zubac continues to grow and glow. Clarkson, Randle, Lou Williams are not even playing yet. I am so happy we finally are seeing signs of life. We must keep this core at all cost please. Were tired of loosing and it’s so hot inside that hole.
Zu!! The Zubac! Zublocka! The Block Maister! The Croatian building block! He’s going to cause a “difficult” logjam at the 5 for Luke before the season is over and the next couple of years.
I know I know it’s summer league, but Zubac is not a fluke, he’s a steal and a half. He has verticality, mobility, size, timing, a capable shot, and he’s a teenager! Mozgov is our best center today and has the contract and mandate to start now, but he won’t for the majority of his contract, as Zubac develops, and he will. Black is the small-ball alternative with a (fair) promise to be given a chance, which means minutes, too.
Here’s why I think, while good to have, this will be a problem nonetheless. None of the three can really play the 4, and Randle/Nance/Deng will have their own logjam already for minutes. At the same time, almost regardless of development scenarios, the skill/contribution gap among the three players will prove too small, and the minutes expectation valid for all three, until Zu develops enough to wrestle the starting spot from Mozgov in a year or two. This will make Moz’s contract even worse that it is, and could generate some friction in the locker room. At least Mozgov will be more likely to accept, even embrace a bench role than some other center we could have signed at a max rate.
On a related side note, finding value at low picks will be THE league’s front offices’ most important core competence in this era of crazy high NBA salaries and college talent parity, even more than it’s ever been before. Let’s pile up on 2nds and keep Mitch and our superb scouting staff around and happy!
ZOO! or ZU! ZU-BlOCK!
Love the kid already. Still not enough to start him over Mozgov, lets not get carried away here. Moz has done his part against NBA-level talent and ZU is merely sniffing the roses. But to see these 2 kids shine in SL is just an amazing promise.
Brandon Ingram, BIG, LONG and SMOOTH.
It will be lots of fun if we fielded a lineup of:
Russell – Williams – Deng – Randle – Mozgov –> weak-ish starting 5.
Calderon – Clarkson – Ingram – Nance – Zubac –> Amazing bench.
Huertas – Brown – Young – Black –> Firemen.
Alexander_ I agree. Mitch and our scouting department has to be ecstatic with the players we’ve stolen from the 2nd round… they look better than most mid-1sts.
Nance, 27th (essentially available at 34)
_Craig W says
Development means development against an NBA team, not summer league.
We need to keep remembering this, or we will find ourselves as frustrated as we did last year. Our expectations must not be placed on wins we expect next year. If we are honest, we should be happy if things work out the way they did last night – players developing, but it was a loss. If we are honest, that scenario is one we hope to see a lot next year. We aren’t good enough yet and we aren’t cohesive enough (know what the other player is going to do) yet to win close to half our actual games next year.
For the next couple of years we are going to be glad – IMO – that we have Mozgov, Deng, and Williams; because they may well be the reason we win a few more games. After that time, maybe we consider trading them – because their contracts will be shorter and less onerous than they now appear (remember the cap is going to continue to rise).
A Horse With No Name says
Ingram showed why he was the number two pick. The only thing holding him back is physical maturation. That unfortunately takes time. If he is indeed still growing, then adding muscle is even harder as the body will direct nutrients to growth. My younger son grew seven inches in one year, ate non-stop, and slept 10-12 hours a night. He gained muscle and weight, but it was a process. He turns 18 at the end of August and is 6’5″ and weighs 185. I hope Ingram is sleeping a ton, because that is key for growth and strength/ weight gain.
As to the incredible skill set he has, there isn’t a better prospect I’ve seen in recent memory that is more suited to star in today’s game. People have described Nowitski as a 7 foot guard, but that is hyperbole. He is a 7 foot guy with guard range. Durant has the guard package with his great handle; but I think Ingram has better floor vision and a much higher ceiling to become a creator and distributor. It’s going to take time to realize all of this, so the immediate results will be incremental and directly tied to physical maturation.
As Craig cautions, patience will be required.