Lakers Vs. Heat Summer League Preview: California Classic Opener
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are back on the floor as they kick off their Summer League schedule at the California Classic in Sacramento on Monday afternoon. Their first opponent is the Miami Heat, who may have a bit of beef with the Lakers after L.A. signed away starting point guard Gabe Vincent just a couple of days ago.

This year’s Summer League team is loaded for the Lakers and will give everyone their first look at the team’s two rookies, Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis.

Hood-Schifino is a combo guard who can do a little bit of everything. He is a creator who can handle the ball and operate in the pick-and-roll, defends multiple positions and is generally a high IQ player. The key for him will be improving his outside shot so many eyes will be on that.

Lewis has all the makings of a 3-and-D wing but will have to show more consistency on both ends of the court. If he can shoot a high percentage from deep while being disruptive on defense, Lewis has the opportunity to possibly crack the Lakers’ rotation early.

Another player looking to crack the Lakers’ rotation this season is second-year guard Max Christie. In limited opportunities last year, Christie showed flashes on both ends and it was clear to see why the Lakers drafted him in the second round. This summer is an opportunity for him to show how much he has developed and it should be big summer for him.

Scotty Pippen Jr. is no longer a two-way player but will still be on the roster and look to show teams around the league he is worthy of an NBA contract.

But the Lakers have three two-way players on the roster as well. Cole Swider remains from last season and will look to show he’s more than just a shooter, though that is his calling card. Following the 2023 NBA Draft, the Lakers added guard D’Moi Hodge and center Collin Castleton on two-way deals as well.

Hodge is another potential two-way player who averaged 2.2 steals per game in three college seasons and was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year at Cleveland State in 2022 before transferring to Missouri last season and showing great improvement as a shooter, knocking down 40% from deep.

Castleton might be the most closely watched player of anyone on the roster, especially with the Lakers eyeing a big man for their final roster spot. The former Gator averaged 2.5 blocks per game in three seasons at Florida while also improving a lot offensively, ultimately averaging 16 points and 2.7 assists in his final season.

The Heat will be led by their first round draft pick, former UCLA star Jaime Jaquez Jr., as well as their 2022 first rounder, Nikola Jovic.

Los Angeles Lakers (0-0) vs. Miami Heat (0-0)

3:00 p.m. PT, May 22, 2023
Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
TV: ESPN2
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Jalen Hood-Schifino
SG: Max Christie
SF: LJ Figueroa
PF: Cole Swider
C: Sacha Killeya-Jones

Key Reserves: Maxwell Lewis, Colin Castleton, Scotty Pippen Jr., D’Moi Hodge, Alex Fudge, Damion Baugh

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