Kicking off their Summer League campaign with a solid 2-1 showing in the California Classic, the Lakers now head to Las Vegas to take part in the much larger and more prestigious Vegas Summer League tournament.
Coming off an extremely impressive come from behind win against the Kings that saw the baby Lakers erase a 21 point deficit before Zach Norvell Jr. buried the game-winning three, the Lakers look to keep their momentum rolling despite facing some stronger competition moving forward.
Although they didn’t have a first-round pick to get a look at in Summer League, Norvell highlights an intriguing group of young players that could turn some heads against some big-name prospects in the Vegas Summer League.
Lakers’ Las Vegas Summer League: Zach Norvell Jr. Among Players To Watch
By far the standout player from the California Classic was two-way signee Zach Norvell Jr. out of Gonzaga. Scoring 16 points in his first outing before dropping 20 in the following game, Norvell finished up his performance with an off-shooting night that saw him dish out a team-high 8 assists along with hitting the game-winning shot. Norvell’s ability to score from all three levels is apparent and he should see some real minutes this season on his two-way deal.
Devontae Cacok is another player that looked impressive in the California Classic. An undersized and high-motor big man, Cacok consistently hit the boards hard while providing ballhandlers an easy outlet down low. He looks to be a player who can become an effective small-ball center and could eventually work himself into a quality role for the Lakers off the bench.
Jordan Howard was relatively quiet up until the final game of the California Classic, however, made his mark known as he drilled clutch three-pointer after clutch three-pointer to help close out the 21 point deficit against the Kings. It should be interesting to see if the young guard can keep his hot hand going into the Vegas Summer league or if his monster showing was a flash in the pan.
Perhaps most exciting is the possible return of Talen Horton-Tucker, the Lakers’ lone draft pick taken in the second round. Horton-Tucker missed the California Classic as a precautionary measure after a stress fracture in his foot and is being re-evaluated today to see if he should be able to go. If he can, he would instantly step in as one of the team’s most talented players and it should be exciting to see how he uses his weight and strength advantage at the next level.
Lakers’ California Classic Summer League Takeaways
Aside from the exciting play of Norvell Jr., Howard, and Cacok, the Lakers as a whole rebounded nicely from a horrendous first game. After getting run out of the building by the Miami Heat, the Lakers were able to right the ship and pick up back to back victories to close out their time in Sacramento. Their defense is not remotely consistent as it didn’t show up at all in the first game or first three-quarters of their last game. However, when the defense is on, the Lakers are an incredibly difficult team to score on – making their mental lapses and disappearing acts all that more frustrating.
Outside of Norvell Jr., the Lakers’ Summer League squad struggles to get consistent buckets. Especially in their first game against the Heat who made a point to slow down the pace and force the Lakers into half-court sets, their lack of offense became extremely apparent. This team is built on making defensive stops and getting out in transition as they lack the size to punish teams inside and lack the consistent outside shooting to make teams pay for cheating and sending help down low.
Those things are to be expected of an undersized Summer League team and for all their shortcomings, the Lakers are a scrappy bunch that should at least be able to grind out a few wins against more talented teams in Vegas.