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.