Through the first two Summer League games in the California Classic, the Los Angeles Lakers brass has to be very happy with the players they brought in to help lead the future of this organization.
The Lakers added three players on draft night, taking Max Christie in the second round and then signing undrafted free agents Cole Swider and Scotty Pippen Jr. to two-way contracts.
Christie is the youngest of the bunch and has some development to do, both physically and with his game. He has shown he can be a high-level defender in the NBA already though, projecting to be a 3-and-D player for the Lakers.
Speaking of 3-pointers, Swider has provided the Lakers exactly that so far in Summer League, knocking down 8-of-13 attempts in two games. At 6’9″, Swider may be able to come in and contribute right away if he is able to continue shooting at such a high level.
And then there’s Pippen, who obviously has a strong family pedigree as the son of Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen. He led the SEC in scoring last year at Vanderbilt, but so far in Summer League, he has shown he can be more than just a scorer.
Pippen probably had the best all-around game for the Lakers in Summer League in Sunday’s win over the Golden State Warriors, scoring 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go along with eight assists, three steals and zero turnovers.
That performance left Lakers Summer League coach Phil Handy very impressed, praising Pippen’s overall basketball IQ after the game.
“Man, it’s in his genes. His dad was a hell of a player, so you can see it,” Handy said. “He’s very cerebral, very smart. His pace and his tempo, his change-of-pace is really good. He’s level with his body. He had 15 [points] and eight [assists] tonight in 19 minutes, 4-for-7, just very efficient. Just a smart kid, understands how to play and I think his skill set, I don’t even think you’ve seen the best of it yet. Just really high-level IQ.”
The Lakers did not really use their two-way players much at the NBA level last season, but with both Swider and Pippen looking like hidden gems, that could give L.A. some much-needed depth going into the regular season.
As far as Summer League goes though, if this team continues to play as well as they have in their first two games, they could be in the mix to win the championship in Las Vegas with Pippen leading the way.
Change of jump shot form already paying dividends for Huff
Another player who has impressed so far this summer is Jay Huff, who spent most of last season with the Lakers’ G League affiliate.
The big man has proven to not only be a rim protector, but also a threat to shoot from outside. He recently revealed that he made some changes to his jump shot and is already seeing results.
“I made a little tweak to my shot honestly. I moved it over, out of my face a little bit,” Huff noted after the Lakers’ second straight Summer League victory in the California Classic.
“I feel like it’s made my shot more consistent. It’s something I’ve worked with a lot. Shoutout to Bob McKinnon, I worked with him a lot this offseason. And just in general that’s something I feel like the coaches have been encouraging me to do so that’s been great.”
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