Los Angeles Lakers Summer League: Five Takeaways

On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers Summer League campaign ended in victorious fashion. Defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 110-98 on the night, the team also had two key players named MVP’s. Lonzo Ball was named Las Vegas Summer League MVP despite sitting out the Championship game through injury. Ball was not the only rookie taking home an individual award, with fellow first-round draft pick Kyle Kuzma taking home the Championship game MVP award. This capped off what was a great tournament for a Lakers team looking to prove a point.

Los Angeles Lakers Summer League: Five Takeaways

Lonzo Ball Impresses 

Drawing crowds, cameras and the gaze of the NBA world, Ball did not disappoint. Averaging 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists, he did it all. The term “floor general” came to mind when watching Ball, as the rookie set the tone for the Lakers on offense. His defense still needs work, but that should come over time. Ball made history in games against Cleveland and Boston; posting triple-doubles in the two games, Ball made Summer League history. Never before had a player tallied a Summer League triple-double.

The expectations for Ball are ridiculously high, with some making absurd predictions. All-Star in his rookie year, leading the Lakers to the playoffs this season, the list goes on. Just let the kid play Basketball and the rest will work itself out.

Kyle Kuzma can Play 

Drafted 27th overall by the Lakers, Kuzma was one of the Summer League’s biggest surprises. Averaging 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, Kuzma has become a fan favorite. In his final year at Utah, he averaged just 32.1 percent from beyond the arc, an unimpressive number to say the least. However, at the Summer League, Kuzma averaged 48 percent from three-point land. The difference is staggering, as Kuzma looked like a lottery pick, not a late first-rounder.

Capable of playing at the two, three and four on the court, Kuzma brings a versatile game. This was on display all Summer League, capping his tournament off with the Championship game MVP award.

Ivica Zubac Struggles 

One of last season’s big surprises was Croatian center Ivica Zubac. Drafted by the Lakers in the second round, Zubac made consistent contributions off the bench, averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. Expected to make the jump this Summer League, Zubac struggled. Working hard on the physical aspect of his game this off-season, the 20-year-old looks in better shape. However, his on-court play looked shaky and lackluster.

In an interview with Harrison Faigen of SilverScreenAndRoll.com, Zubac talked about his struggles on the court:

“When I go to the rim, I’ve got to be more aggressive. I’ve got to go for a dunk every time. If I don’t dunk, I’ll get free throws. That’s my main goal.”

Injuries Did Not Hold the Lakers back

Both Brandon Ingram and Ball ended this year’s tournament on the bench. Struggling with cramps, Ingram was shut down at the end of game one, with Magic Johnson and the team taking no risks. Now, from one No.2 pick to another, Ball missed the Championship game with a calf strain. Despite missing the big game, the Lakers fought, going on to beat a talented Trail Blazers team.

Rookie Josh Hart also missed most of the Summer League struggling with injury.

Alex Caruso & Vander Blue can Take Advantage of a New Rule 

A new rule introduced by the NBA will allow teams to expand their rosters from 15 spots to 17. Those two new spots will be filled with players on two-way contracts. A two-way contract means the player can play in both the NBA and the newly named G-League. Last season the Lakers brought up David Nwaba, signing him to a 10-day contract. However, the new rule would lead to Nwaba being signed to a two-way deal, instead of the traditional 10-day deal.

Impressing in this year’s Summer League, both Alex Caruso and Vander Blue will look to take advantage of the new rule. Caruso has already signed a two-way deal after his inventive play at the point guard position. In Blue’s case, reports suggest the Lakers are strongly considering using their second two-way deal on last season’s D-League MVP.

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