With Lakers media day in exactly 10 days, training camp is right around the corner. The Lakers have had an eventful summer, swapping coaches, drafting a couple of players they have high hopes for, and adding new veterans to help on the court and in the locker room to help fill the leadership void created by Kobe Bryant’s retirement.
But training camp is not just the first step for the players who have secured a spot on the roster, it is also for fringe players to try and make their mark — not only on the Lakers, but to showcase their skill and work ethic in a way which might earn them a more permanent spot in the league should they not make LA’s roster. With that, the team has recently announced the signing of three players who are looking to take advantage of their time in the Lakers’ camp.
If you watched summer league, you should be somewhat familiar with Zach Auguste. The former Notre Dame big man flashed his energy and hustle around the basket while in Vegas, grabbing rebounds and finishing at (and above) the rim. Auguste is athletic, smart, and plays within himself — three traits which always serve a role player well. Auguste has a C’s game in a PF’s body, but his ability to be a viable roll man in the P&R, hit the glass hard, and be active on defense will serve him (and whatever team he finds a home on this season) well.
Travis Wear is another “big”, though of a completely different type. The former UCLA Bruin has pro experience, playing for the Knicks and, most recently, in Spain’s ACB league, but will likely find his niche more as a “stretch” PF than anything else. He has good size at 6’10”, but is only 230 pounds and was used more as a SF by Derek Fisher during his time in NY. If he wants to stick in the league, he’s best served using some of his wing skills against bigger players and/or running pick-and-pops where he can get free for his jumper or use his size against smaller defenders when teams switch the action.
Like Wear, Julian Jacobs is another “local” product who the Lakers have picked up. The PG played at USC last season and was a key player in their run to the NCAA Tournament. Jacobs is more of a two-way player who has a knack for picking up steals while also showing a steady playmaking game (he lead the Pac-12 in assists last year at a shade over 5 a game). He went undrafted, but showed some game in the Orlando Summer league and, apparently, impressed enough at the Lakers free agent mini-camp to get an invite to training camp.
Before inking any of these three to camp deals, the Lakers already had 15 players on their roster so the likelihood of any of them sticking is slim. Of course there is still the question of Nick Young’s future, but even if Young were cut, I’d imagine the Lakers would prefer to keep an open roster spot over signing a camp invite to sit at the end of the bench while losing some flexibility in being able to sign other FA’s or make 2-for-1 trades.
That said, any of the three could be candidates for the D-Fenders (especially Auguste) and all offer the type of skill-set the Lakers should be looking to mine and develop. Auguste’s P&R play, Wear’s potential as a shooter, and Jacob’s assist-game paired with good defensive instincts are the types of “one skill” that can have a player stick in the NBA should the other parts of their respective games develop adequately.
It’s a long way to go for all three, of course, but getting a good look at these guys over the course of camp gives the Lakers a chance at evaluating them up close and first dibs on retaining them via a D-League assignment. We’ll see how things go.