With the franchise in disarray and saddled with young talent in years prior, the Las Vegas Summer League became something of a high point for Laker fans. After winning it all in 2017, the Lakers made it to the championship game in 2018 before falling just short.
However, the vast majority of summer league staples over the past two seasons have been shipped off to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis deal, leading the Lakers to have a fresh crop of faces taking the floor in Summer League.
Lakers Announce 2019 Las Vegas Summer League Schedule
With four games before the tournament seeding begins, the Lakers have a chance to get a bit of cohesion and set themselves up for an easier run through the Summer League. The Lakers have already signed Devontae Cacok, Jordan Caroline, and Aric Holman to Exhibit 10 deals while Zach Norvell, Jr. is on a two-way deal.
Expect them to see some significant minutes in the summer league as the Lakers only return three players from last season’s roster. Those three players – Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones – might find themselves traded as well, leaving the summer league roster even tinner. However, if they stick around, look for big steps from Wagner and Bonga. Second-year players notoriously dominate the Summer League and both players looked to have made major steps by the end of the season last year.
Forecasting The Lakers’ Summer League Chances
In short, they aren’t too good. Especially if Wagner, Bonga, and Jones get dumped to free up money, the Lakers won’t have any second-year players on their summer league roster. Without those experienced “veteran” players that other teams have, the Lakers should find themselves outgunned regardless of what other players they bring in off the UDFA market or invite to Summer League.
That said, for the first time in years the team is gearing up to actually make a run at a title as opposed to attempting to develop young talent. Summer League excellence shouldn’t be expected in “win now” situations, which the Lakers are most certainly in.
One of the only games they might have a chance in is the matchup with the Warriors. The Bulls, Clippers, and Knicks are loaded with young talent and solid second-year players likely to show their face in the Summer League. While those teams look to be far too deep for the Lakers to hang with, the Warriors don’t have the same talent level and while better on paper than the Lakers – looks to be at least a winnable game.