With yet another stellar night for the Lakers in the preseason – this time chipping in 29 points – Zach Norvell Jr. is shaping up to be the Lakers’ next great two-way contract player. Fellow undrafted free agent Alex Caruso showed considerable promise on his two-way deal last year before turning that into a fully guaranteed deal worth two years and $5.5 million.
After the resounding success of Caruso on his two-way deal, Laker fans are hoping the team can strike gold twice and produce another contributor in Norvell.
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Zach Norvell Jr. Could be the Lakers’ Next Great Two-Way Contract
Player development has been a major focal point of the Lakers over the past few seasons. Producing a number of quality players taken either late in the draft or scooped up as undrafted free agents, Norvell finds himself in good hands as he tries to make the jump to a full-time NBA player.
In addition to the development of Caruso; Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Kyle Kuzma were all either late first-round or second-round selections who the Lakers helped mold into serviceable NBA players – though none of the three played on a two-way deal. While Clarkson and Nance were flipped to the Cavaliers in 2018, the fact remains that they far exceeded their expectations coming into the league – thanks in large part to the Lakers’ player development staff.
Despite being an undrafted free agent, Norvell should see some real minutes during his 45 days allowed on the NBA roster. While he likely won’t see the extended run that Caruso saw last year, Norvell’s ability to create his own looks and efficiently score is something the Lakers’ bench is in desperate need of. With some additional work down in South Bay, Norvell has the potential to turn into an impact player for the Lakers as early as later this year.
Lakers Fall Short in Preseason Finale Despite Norvell’s Stellar Performance
Even though Norvell showed out, the Lakers were simply too short-handed to deal with the likes of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and D’Angelo Russell – losing 124 to 103. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard all sitting, the Lakers ran out what amounts to a glorified South Bay Lakers roster against what is expected to be the Warriors’ opening night lineup. Aside from Norvell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a great night for the Lakers as one of the only contributors – along with Jared Dudley and Alex Caruso – who saw time in the final preseason game.
The game was slightly marred for the Lakers by the injury to Alex Caruso, suffered early in the first quarter when Caruso attacked the basket and landed hard on his back. X-Rays on Caruso’s back proved to be negative, though he was held out for the remainder of the game and will be undergoing further testing in the coming days.
Despite the loss, the Lakers should be emboldened by the performance as the deep bench was able to keep the game relatively close despite lacking the offensive firepower to hang with the Warriors’ cast of All-Stars.