With a number of players on the Summer League roster who are expected to be on the Los Angeles Lakers once the regular season rolls around, expectations were extremely high for the team in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the team failed to live up to the hype.
Second overall pick D’Angelo Russell has struggled with his shooting as well as his turnovers, though he has made some excellent passes. Julius Randle struggled mightily in his first three games, before finally finding a rhythm against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers’ other two draft picks, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown, both had a couple of nice moments sprinkled in with moments of ineffectiveness and undrafted Robert Upshaw has struggled with his conditioning and thus been limited.
There have been some good moments as Jordan Clarkson has looked excellent for the most part and seems poised to improve on his rookie season, while Jabari Brown has picked right up where he left off and remains an excellent scorer.
Even though hopes were not met, there were still some positives to go along with the negatives of this Summer League stint. So we asked our panel of experts who impressed them, and disappointed them during Summer League. This is what they had to say:
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): One pleasant surprise in my opinion has been the play of Jabari Brown. I expected Jordan Clarkson to be excellent in this situation, but Brown has been able to get just about any shot he wants as well.
With all of the players the Lakers have brought in, Brown’s roster spot seems to be in jeopardy. The Lakers have 12 players with fully or partially guaranteed contracts and while both Clarkson and Tarik Black have non-guaranteed deals, they will definitely be on the roster which leaves only one spot left.
By showcasing his ability to score almost at will, and play hard-nosed defense, Jabari is going to make it very difficult for the Lakers to let him go.
On the other end, I’ve been disappointed by the Lakers other two draft picks, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown.
Nance Jr. has shown impressive athleticism and had a couple of nice plays, but other than that his offensive game has lacked as his jumper has been inconsistent and he has been pushed around at times. Brown was known as a shooter and defender and while his defense has been solid, his shooting hasn’t been great. He’s hardly been noticeable on the court when he’s out there.
All of these players are young and should get better. You can’t judge too much in Summer League and I hope all of these young guys improve before training camp.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): The most impressive player on the Lakers Summer League squad continues to be Jordan Clarkson. The second-year guard hasn’t really missed a beat since earning NBA All-Rookie First Team honors last season and has been one of the most consistent players on the team in the first four games.
Although Clarkson hasn’t been perfect during Summer League play, he and fellow Missouri product, Jabari Brown, appear to be the best offensive players on the floor for Los Angeles. Julius Randle has shown flashes of brilliance at times, but with a 20-minute restriction and his struggles to finish at the rim, the Kentucky standout hasn’t been all that consistent.
In my opinion, the biggest disappointment for the Lakers isn’t much of a surprise. Rookie D’Angelo Russell has struggled to get anything going since tipoff in their first matchup, but with his skill set, it’ll take time to shine with some team chemistry needed to truly flourish.
One of the main reasons for Russell’s struggles seems to be the lack of movement. A lot of players are standing around when he brings the ball up the floor making it difficult for the pass-first guard to get going.
At times, Russell’s incredible passing ability has been put on display, but only when his teammates cut to the basket or set screens to open things up. Although I’m blaming his teammates for his struggles, the Ohio State star also needs to adjust. The best way to do so would be approaching the game with a scorer’s mentality first then setting up his teammates after drawing double teams.
The young players on the Summer League roster weren’t expected to be perfect nor should they be. Russell, Randle and even Clarkson have plenty to work on moving forward. Hopefully, this young core can figure things out or at least build some chemistry throughout the off-season while paving the way for the future in Los Angeles.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): As a whole, the Lakers Summer League experience has been underwhelming considering all of the anticipation and excitement coming in. Many believed the Lakers could run through the competition with their talented roster. Instead they dropped two of their opening three games and lost in the knockout rounds.
Part of the problem revolves around the players not being used to each other just yet. This is particularly clear when seeing the number of turnovers D’Angelo Russell has committed. It would be easy to say that Russell hasn’t lived up to the hype and call him a disappointment because of the mistakes and his inability to takeover games. However, I just see it as a lack of chemistry between the young Lakers.
If there was one thing I could call disappointing about Russell it is that his shots aren’t falling. His shooting will come in time just like everything else. He has gotten some good looks and should’ve been able to make more than one three pointer through the team’s first four games.
In terms of impressive efforts, another Lakers draftee gets high praise. The Larry Nance Jr. pick was questioned by many, but he has shown his willingness to play with high energy and go all-out on every possession. With his consistent heart and hustle, he should continue to be a key role player for the Lakers.[divide]