By this time in summer league, we start to get a fairly good idea of who on the squad can play and has any chance of getting to training camp, so the coaches accordingly start shortening the available rotation to get a better look at the players they like. This contest was no exception, as the Lakers' starters played the majority of the contest and are increasingly starting to resemble a very coherent unit, especially on defense. For a team with no true four man and a proclivity for trotting out some very undersized lineups -- Elias Harris at center for extended stretches, anyone? -- they are doing a remarkably good job defending the rim, getting out on shooters, and cutting off penetration in the pick-and-roll. Early on, it was only a lot of sloppiness from the Lakers on offense leading to open transition opportunities for the Clips and some sweet shooting by their first rounder Reggie Bullock coming off screens that gave them lead coming out of the first. After that, the Lakers tightened the screws on defense, improved their offensive execution, and eventually cruised to another very good victory in Las Vegas.
The aforementioned play of the Lakers' undersized fours deserves a lot of credit in this regard, as both Elias Harris and Marcus Landry, the latter of whom has a seemingly ironclad lock on a training camp invite at this point, were consistently checking much bigger players in the post, being active on the defensive boards, and doing a decent job in their weak side responsibilities. His threes not falling this game, Landry gave us more evidence he's not a one-trick pony by taking the ball again and again at the rim, scoring a game high 16 points on a 62.1 TS%. Through three games, he is the Lakers' leading scorer at 14.7 points per game with a 56.0 TS%, all while switching between both forward spots and shouldering the biggest offensive responsibility. Kudos to him.
Harris, meanwhile, is making quite the case that he deserves a more serious look in training camp, as his long-range shooting is probably the only thing holding him back from doing so. He plays with a great deal of energy on both ends, corralling offensive boards, getting to loose balls, and attacking the rim. The team did a much better job getting him the ball cleaner on cuts on the baseline or elsewhere and Harris even reversed the impression of him from the past few games by driving successfully from behind the arc. Still, as a tweener between both forward spots, he really needs a somewhat respectable outside jumper to play in Mike D'Antoni's system and that might not necessarily be forthcoming during this summer league.
Speaking of reversed impressions, Chris Douglas-Roberts apparently took the comments on his passivity in the past two games to heart, as he was one of the primary driving forces behind the Lakers' offense. Applying his herky jerky style of game around the rim, CDR was using picks well to not only get his points, but prove that he has decent distributing chops as he found players around the rim on cuts and transition. On a particularly impressive sequence, CDR threw a bullet pass with one hand from the top of the key to Sacre while he was under the rim for an easy layup. On defense, he had trouble checking Bullock initially but later did a much better job of tracking him through screens. CDR's work on this end hasn't been quite as exemplary as many of his colleagues, but he is putting in the effort along with everyone else.
These three were arguably the most impressive performers tonight, although the remainder had their moments as well. Lester Hudson nabbed 13 points on a great shooting performance, but his questionable distributing chops and poor decision-making weren't nearly as endearing; regardless, he is most likely auditioning for squads other than the Lakers as mentioned in previous pieces due to the team's backcourt glut. Continuing on his good defensive play all summer league, Robert Sacre was scoring more easily on his roll opportunities and being more of a factor around the basket on offense. Interestingly, the team used Mitchell Watt as his replacement in the frontcourt for stretches even though Watt's natural spot is probably the four. Watt was a willing passer out of the block and the pick-and-roll per usual and did a respectable job defending one position up for the most part, but he hasn't been very assertive on offense either.
As for the two other names who have been mentioned for a possible training camp invite in Michael Snaer and Lazar Hayward, they didn't necessarily have bad nights, but are increasingly getting outpaced by Landry, Harris, and CDR for consideration by the team. After a while, the allotment of minutes starts to speak for itself, as while Snaer had a decent game on offense and seems especially good on the boards for a two guard, it's becoming harder for him to eke out minutes in the rotation. Perhaps as summer league winds down, the Lakers' less-than-impressive stable of backup point guards will have their minutes reduced in favor of him. And at least Snaer has the benefit of competing for a different position group, as Hayward is solidly behind both Harris and Landry in the pecking order and wasn't able to have nearly the same success in transition as he had last game. His relative inability as far as we have seen to play at the four in certain lineups is another mark against him.
With the Lakers beginning an elimination tournament that could add up to six games to their schedule depending on how the team performs, we very well could see Josh Selby and D.J. Seeley pushed out of the rotation as the team tries to stay competitive in order to get more playing time for the guys they want to see for training camp. Selby has been a huge disappointment considering his performance in last year's summer league, unable to harness his athleticism and overcome a lack of point guard chops and a bad jumper. Same applies for Seeley, who has shown practically none of the skills that made him a featured scorer at Cal State Fullerton.
The rest of the roster in Drew Viney, Jordan Williams, Travis Hyman, and Renaldo Woolridge will probably spend the remainder of summer league rooted to the bench, although it has been somewhat bizarre that Williams, a productive NBA rotation player only a year ago, hasn't gotten an extended shot yet, his so-so fit in Mike D'Antoni's system notwithstanding. The team very well could be indifferent to this as they have pinpointed the players they most want to concentrate on this, a not unjustified viewpoint considering how Landry, Harris, and CDR have emerged as the guys most likely to be wearing the purple and gold come media day in September.
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