Just looking at the respective starting units of these squads, a casual observer would rightfully expect the Lakers to be at a significant disadvantage against a Portland squad that had five players who could probably all be part of a NBA rotation. Even with Damian Lillard not playing, the Blazers were starting three recent lottery picks, whereas the Lakers only have one person on the entire roster in Lazar Hayward who even sniffed the first round. This notwithstanding, the Lakers continued their excellent defensive effort from Friday, with aggressive hedges and traps against the pick-and-roll continuously stymieing the Blazers' offensive flow and often leading to transition opportunities on the other end. Although the Lakers shot poorly as a team, they continued to attack the rim on a regular basis throughout the game and drew a good deal of fouls from the Blazers' interior defense.
At the heart of the Lakers' defense was Robert Sacre, who was everywhere on the floor this game. We knew coming out of Gonzaga that was an intelligent defensive player and had good knowledge of angles and where to be on the floor, but he was using his nimbleness for a seven footer to great effect. Time and time again he would stop the ballhandler from penetrating into the paint off a pick and was crisp in his interior rotations to stop slashers as well. The only blemish was his so-so rebounding, something that has never been a particular strength of his between his poor box outs and lack of elevation, but otherwise, he was the anchor of a defense that held the Blazers to a dismal 40.2 TS%.
On offense, Sacre had far less success, setting good picks but still needing a lot of work on catching the ball cleanly in stride on the roll and getting into a good rhythm when going for a midrange shot. He will never be much of a factor on this end, although it is important for him to get his jumper up to par to have some offensive utility when he is on the floor. Altogether, Sacre has demonstrated some pretty clear improvement from last year and while he has a bit of a ways to go before cracking into the rotation outright, one can easily see him as a serviceable fifth big for the moment.
Among the other decent contributors, we see some familiar faces in Marcus Landry and Michael Snaer, the two most impressive performers from Friday's contest. Landry in particular is showing that he is probably the most adept of the Lakers' various wings at being able to also man the four spot, something the team has been regularly trying out in its lineups to varying levels of success. Drew Viney, for instance, likely played his way out of future summer league minutes after a poor job checking fours and being generally ineffective on offense. As for Landry, even though he gives up pounds and inches, he competes very hard on defense and does an especially good job boxing out bigger players. One could see him being effective at either forward spot in Mike D'Antoni's offense and while he didn't shoot particularly well, his effort on both ends was endearing.
As for Snaer, he continues to demonstrate that he has a decent amount of playmaking ability off the dribble, as he uses the pick-and-roll to search for his shot as well as find others on kick outs or going to the rim. Although his finishing ability is so-so and his in-between game might need some work, Snaer generally looks very smooth when handling the ball and this is consistent with how he played in college. He also was able to be more of a factor on the defensive end, notably rotating to draw a charge on Thomas Robinson that unfortunately ended in him careening into Will Barton's leg. After two games, he and Landry most likely have the inside track for a training camp spot.
Two more names tried to introduce themselves into that conversation, however, as both Lester Hudson and Lazar Hayward performed very well as some of the few Lakers to have an efficient night on offense. Hudson had most of his success from behind the arc, but hasn't yet demonstrated that he can be a playmaker off the dribble. This in addition to the glut the Lakers have in the backcourt makes it very difficult for him to be expecting any future in Los Angeles. Hayward, on the other hand, was probably the best player on the team in terms of running the floor, getting transition bucket after bucket by simply knowing when to leak out on the break. He also displayed some offensive versatility on a nice cut to the basket and nailed a long two off the dribble when chased off the line. He'll have to show more as summer camp goes on, but a guy with his energy and skill set can have a role on what is shaping up to be a very uptempo bench unit.
On the subject of energy, Elias Harris still feels as if he's right on the edge of being a guy who could man a rotation spot, but needs to fix a few things in his game beforehand. His outside shot is too inconsistent, he doesn't finish consistently, and it perchance isn't a good idea for him to think that he can drive from the top of the key with any measure of success. Still, he finds ways to be effective despite this due to his energy, perhaps best exemplified when he missed a shot at the rim against Meyers Leonard, got his own rebound, and subsequently dunked it over the top of Leonard. This is a system in which he could have a lot of success switching between both forward spots, but he needs more polish to succeed in both areas.
The most disappointing performer has to be Chris Douglas-Roberts, with Josh Selby a close second behind him. Expected to have a roster spot all but locked up should he perform up to expectations, CDR was remarkably passive and did not look for his shot at all until the third quarter. Even after he started to get to the foul line more consistently, he felt like a non-factor in the offense and this will have to change very quickly should he wish to restore his lost stock. As for Selby, he looked nothing like the player who dominated summer league last season and was continuously hamstrung by a poor jumper, bad decision-making on his drives, and an inability to make it all the way to the rim. Similar to Hudson, it was always going to be hard for Selby to crack a Lakers squad that has a very full backcourt, but the talent would have been an endearing pull, something Selby hasn't made very apparent so far.
Everyone else was fairly unremarkable or failed to make much of an impression in limited minutes. To his credit, Travis Hyman did have a decent nine minute run, making some athletic plays on defense, but he still appears to be a very raw prospect. The aforementioned Viney was awful on both ends and D.J. Seeley was invisible for a guy who was used to being a main option on his team at Cal State Fullerton. Mitchell Watt and Jordan Williams both failed to get minutes this game, although this is a pretty normal quirk of summer league rotations as the team tries to get multiple looks at different players. Williams has too much talent not to get a shot at some juncture and Watt likely deserves another look due to his solid schematic fit for the offense on paper.
Going forward, we can expect the team to start tightening the rotations a bit and sitting the guys they know will make it to training camp, so Sacre, for instance, might start getting longer breaks. By and large, the team as a whole has shown striking adherence to the prescribed systems on both sides of the floor, as guys are sacrificing their bodies on defense as they run out on shooters and try to make their weak side rotations as well as keeping the ball and themselves moving on offense. A lot of these guys probably don't have much chance of making the final roster, but their willingness not to showboat and seek their own statistics is how you appeal to a coach that emphasizes flow, spacing, and ball movement, so they all deserve their plaudits.
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