In the latest episode of the Laker Film Room podcast, Pete and I discuss the Lakers first game from the Las Vegas Summer League. We get into Lonzo Ball’s shooting struggles, what parts of his play we liked, and whether we have any concerns. We also got into every other key rotation player, including what went into Brandon Ingram’s strong night and why he looked like the best player on the floor.
After talking about the game, we discussed the Lakers quiet free agency to this point, wonder whether they can really be a player in the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope market, and what we anticipate the Lakers doing — if anything — in free agency before the season starts. Click through to give the entire episode a listen.
My thoughts on the first summer league game of the Lakers:
– Bryant is the new Zubac: Better than expected, nice shooting stroke although he struggled from the line (57%), nice energy, good defensive plays.
– Zubac was the biggest disappointment: No energy, got pushed around by Bryce Johnson, no energy towards the rim, bad P&R Game, did’t take a 3 point shot or adjusted his game because of Johnson’s presence. If I hadn’t seen him play last season where he was great, I would say he was a boy in a mans game.
– Ingram looks very good. Nice drives, nice handles, looks a lot stronger and his shot looks a lot better. He really was too good for summer league and thats what you wish for the second year of the #2 draft pick. Very promising.
– Lonzo will start the “bust talks” like DLo did. I am surprised that I already have to read negative comments in the comment section of Darius last entry “Lakers Summer League Preview”. Sure he didn’t shoot well. But what I was looking for was defense, ability to get the shot up, P&R Game, 1on1 drives to the rim. I know he can pass and that he can shoot. Awkward shooting motion or not, he made over 40% of his 3s in college. When he gets his shot of and he did in this game, he will make 3s.
To me he looked better on defense then I expected, managed to stay in front most of the times and had good awareness leading to 2 steals and a block.
Not a lot P&R Plays but the few looked okay.
He was able to get by his defender and drive to the rim. He had a nice crossover. Made the right decision to pass when the lane got clogged and to try the layup when the space was there.
I take such a bad shooting night with promising defense and nice flashes of 1on1 driving over great shooting from 3 and bad defense and horrible dribbling / driving any time.
Note: This are just my observations and thoughts on this one game and no judgments of the players / their NBA season etc. Let’s do all the judging and comparing and criticizing, when summer league is over. Even then there is a lot to take into account (small sample size, it’s summer league, they are all young, not enough practice, how good a certain playing style translates right away)
Old Timer says
The last 5 seconds where Lonzo inbound the ball and ended up to Ingram. BI was double teamed and executive a jump shot in the waning seconds. Is that the best play Lakers could do? Where is the decoy, going to the least expected open player who could go the hoop? Why not put in high energy Bryant and Zubac at the same time at that last play for alley hoops or follow up rebound and asked Josh or Kuzma do the inbound play, thereby creating four different possibilities that could confuse Cassell’s defense. Unfortunately, Sam Cassell was a tactician as a player and knew exactly where the ball would go. In the end, Coach Buehler/Madsen were clueless and Magic has to intervene at the middle of the court and took out Ingram for the night after simple leg cramps, fearing that their most important asset might sustain a major injury and spoil the season like what happened to Simmons last year. Lonzo Ball could only do so much what he was told to do. During Magic’s time being the playmaker he would suggest the play to be done to the coach. Would Lonzo create waves and whine like his loquacious Dad after the game? He absorbed criticisms from D’Lo’s fan brigade, listened and followed instructions of the Coach to the letter without any complaints.
Bryant: I liked his energy. Looks like he may have a place in the league as an energy and hustle guy (much like Tarik Black). There is always room for those type of guys in the league. His game is very raw though.
Ingram looked good. Didn’t hesitate in attacking when he had the opportunity. Last year he often looked hesitant about what he should do on offense. I didn’t see any of that last night which is nice, even if its just one summer league game. His FT shooting mechanics looked better too. I know they said they worked on adjusting his shot slightly.
Ball: His court awareness and ability to move the ball and orchestrate the offense was apparent (when one of the players that won’t be in the league next year, didn’t just decide to shoot the ball as soon as he got it, Blue’s tunnel vision makes Clarkson’s passing look like John Stockton). His shot was off. But he took mostly open looks that the defense gave him. Given his shooting numbers in college (I believe he shot close to 47% on a good number of pull up 3’s, often from NBA range) I have to believe that he will be able to hit that shot. His shooting does look ugly, but just the way he brings the ball up. The release and follow through look picture perfect. On defense I though he was decent as a help defender. I think in a few years he will be a good help defender in the NBA. His on ball defense though was pretty bad. That is something he will have to work hard on. Some of that will be getting stronger so that he get through screens better.
Next game I would like to see them try to get in transition more. I don’t know if there is anyone else on the SL team that can lead a fast break besides Ball (maybe ingram could, he has a pretty solid feel for the game and is a good passer), because Ball is a great (or at least was in college) finisher on the break. At least on the actual team I think Randle can do that, though he often is a little tunnel visioned on the break.
As one would expect, everyone is just getting started and will improve with practice time. I can’t help but wonder about the future of Randle & Clarkson since they are in the forefront of trade talks and the season has yet to begin. Is Bryant penciled in as a possible Randle replacement? He played with energy last night. Time will tell, right now I’m more excited going into this season than last. Good luck team!
I hope that Magic and Pelinka are all in on Caldwell-Pope. C-P is a strong 2-way player who really improved his 3 pt shooting last season. He can defend the 1 and would go a long way in easing the sting of giving Russell away. Like Pete said, this type of player was not supposed to be available this late in free agency.