Picked up as an undrafted free agent out of UNC Wilmington, Devontae Cacok has defied all expectations so far in his brief professional career. An undersized big man standing only 6’7″, Cacok shined in the NBA Summer League before stringing together a series of strong showings for the Lakers in the preseason.
Lakers’ Devontae Cacok Continues Standout Offseason
With numerous contributors getting some rest in Monday’s game, Cacok used his extended opportunity to showcase just how big of an impact he can have on a game. Piling up 16 points to go with six rebounds, Cacok made his presence felt all over the court. Though he has yet to provide some of the highlight reel plays we became accustomed to during Summer League, watching the Lakers play, you can’t help but notice how Cacok is seemingly involved in every play. He is undersized yet an incredible athlete who plays with an unmatched motor. Head coach Frank Vogel has seemingly noticed the potential impact he can have and as a result, Cacok has seen some quality minutes so far throughout the preseason.
While still incredibly raw and foul-prone, Cacok looks to be someone worth keeping an eye on as he has the raw physical and intangible tools to carve out a role for himself in the NBA. His size will always be somewhat of an issue but Cacok is helped a bit by the modern NBA trending towards smaller and more mobile bigs who are more capable of handling switches out on the perimeter.
Cacok shouldn’t be expected to make the Lakers’ NBA roster out of camp. That said, he is signed to an Exhibit 10 deal and has a major financial incentive to join the South Bay squad to continue his development. Especially if JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard goes down, Cacok looks to be a more appealing option to help fill minutes compared to some of the remaining free-agent big men.
Zach Norvell Jr. Other Laker Training Camp Standouts
While Cacok has played well in his limited minutes during the preseason, he is far from the only young Laker to put forward an impressive showing. Zach Norvell Jr., one of the Lakers’ two-way contracts, looked stellar in the latest win over the Warriors, racking up a team-high 22 points. Similar to Cacok, Norvell Jr. was a standout player during the Summer League. However, given the nature of his contract, Norvell is certain to see more NBA action compared to Cacok this season and could prove to be a solid contributor off the end of the bench.
The Lakers seem to have a glaring need when it comes to shot creation and Norvell might be able to help. While James and Davis can create opportunities for themselves and others on the starting unit, Rajon Rondo seems to be the only player capable of creating similar looks on the bench. The reintroduction of Kyle Kuzma should help, though Kuzma isn’t a shot creator on his own and should find himself fairly reliant on Rondo to put him in strong positions to score.
Norvell has repeatedly shown an ability to shake defenders and a natural comfort when attempting to create his own looks. Most of these looks have come against Summer League and G-League level talent, though it will certainly something to keep an eye on as the season goes on.