The Los Angeles Lakers spent one of their two-way contract slots on Syracuse senior Cole Swider last offseason. Swider spent four years in college developing into a 41% 3-point shooter with Syracuse his final season. At 6-foot-9, he could have been someone the Lakers used earlier in the year.
Unfortunately for Swider, he saw limited minutes throughout the season. He only appeared in seven games with the Lakers, often when the game was out of reach. Much of that can be attributed to a navicular stress fracture he suffered on his right foot that cost him the first half of the season. The injury came near the opening weeks of the season, sidelining him for almost two months.
Swider appeared in his first game with the South Bay Lakers in late December, scoring 10 points in 22 minutes. He followed the Lakers throughout the season, however, gaining valuable experience about what it takes to make the playoffs and compete at a high level. He often participated in pre-game warmups on the court with fellow rookie Scotty Pippen Jr. hours before tip-off.
His time with the G League led to a solid first season. He played in 27 games and averaged 17 points per game. Swider also shot 43% from deep, a team-high and 12th-best in the entire G League. He has one year left on his two-way deal with the Lakers.
His NBA highlights were limited in his first season, however, Swider made his NBA debut on opening night, a moment he surely won’t forget. He collected one rebound and dished out one assist. He scored his first NBA points on Jan. 6 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Three nights later, Swider saw his most extensive minutes of the season against the Denver Nuggets. With the Lakers hobbled by injuries, Swider played 26 minutes off the bench. He scored six points on 2-for-6 shooting with five rebounds and three assists.
Swider’s best G League outing came in late February when he dropped 37 points on 80% shooting with 10 rebounds. He caught fire with eight 3-pointers in a win against the Iowa Wolves.
Swider will likely be a key player on the Lakers team during the NBA Summer League. At 6-foot-9 and a shooter, Swider fits the need of many teams around the league. If he can showcase his improvements during the Summer League, he may be able to secure a full contract rather than a two-way deal.
The forward has the potential to develop into a strong wing the Lakers can potentially use. Adding a solid defense to his 3-point shooting would make him hard to keep in the G League.
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