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Lakers drop LVSL tourney opener to Sixers, 85-63, as Randle continues to produce

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Perhaps it was a bit of premature to declare that Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis had redeemed themselves, as the Lakers looked hapless against the Sixers until Julius Randle started to show just how versatile his overall game is.

Jamie Squire

All of that professed momentum we asserted that the Lakers would have coming off their first summer league victory in Vegas vanished fairly quickly under a painful avalanche of awful possessions in the second quarter of their game against the Sixers, as we saw the limitations of the roster that Mitch Kupchak and co. have assembled. Quite simply, everyone outside of the Lakers' current players in Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Kendall Marshall with a few exceptions -- Trey Thompkins being the most prominent example, although Kevin Murphy has quietly tried to insert himself into this conversation -- has been terrible at creating opportunities, whether it's within the scope of the offense that Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis have tried to implement or on their own when they inevitably freelance. In turn, this leads to those very same players pressing, realizing that they're running out of time to make a name for themselves and forcing the issue when they lack the wherewithal to do so.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the struggles of DeAndre Kane, one of our original favorites to perform well in Vegas. Kane submitted two respectable in-control performances to start, the best being his five assist effort against the Pelicans, but he subsequently has fallen off a cliff trying to force the issue whenever he touches the ball. Time and time again, Kane has drove into big crowds, put up bad shots, and more or less tried to abrogate his overall responsibilities as a primary ballhandler in favor of trying to put up numbers. Even considering the overall difficulty the Lakers have faced in running the scheme Madsen and Lewis have installed, this doesn't excuse unrepentant gunning and Kane's more or less played himself out of a camp invite he probably had the talent to claim.

Indeed, such a thing is especially driven home when Randle, who would be entirely justified going for his own points every time he touches the ball, ended up being the Lakers' best distributor of the night. We saw his drive and kick game on display in previous games, the addition of Thompkins at the five particularly helping in this regard, but his overall court vision has been particularly impressive.

A guy who demands as much defensive attention as Randle does and possesses his level of ballhandling constantly needs to have his head on a swivel and Randle was constantly surveying the floor in transition and on his drives, often keeping the ball with his off-hand (!). The most impressive of these sequences was Randle's no-look pass in transition to Thompkins for an easy bucket and he had plenty of other instances of good passing throughout the game. This overall level of refinement in Randle's face-up game is needless to say, very impressive for a 19 year old and it's hard not to be excited about his prospects.

With Randle taking on much of the offensive responsibilities, this reduced Clarkson's role and he finally had a bad game shooting the ball from range after hitting half of his threes the previous three games. Nevertheless, it's fairly evident that the offense was only running smoothly when either Randle or Clarkson had the ball and it's not surprising that the Lakers were roundly annihilated when they were both off the floor. Indeed, considering the current additions to the Lakers, especially Ed Davis and Jeremy Lin, both guys that benefit in an open, uptempo system, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the Lakers should be implementing a high paced offense next season and Clarkson fits right into that mold. A very good finisher for a guard, Clarkson has gotten a ton of buckets throughout summer league by pushing the break and generally making good reads in transition, so hopefully this continues with the parent team.

At this juncture, however, there's not really a whole lot more we can read into summer league, as facile as those conclusions tend to be in the first place. The Sixers were certainly a better team than the Lakers last night, but the only thing to really take from that was a confirmation of the status of the remaining players on the roster as far as the Lakers and training camp should be concerned. We can probably say that Thompkins and maybe Murphy, who has quietly been putting up decent numbers, are the only legitimate candidates for camp invites, but unlike last year with Marcus Landry, no one has made their case that they deserve a shot to fill a hole in a Lakers rotation that still has quite a bit of them. Rodrigue Beaubois and Kane both have been poor as the lead guards, LaQuinton Ross is borderline invisible whenever he's on the floor, and everyone else is pretty miserable.

As such, the roster assembly process for summer league was on paper as good as it was last year, but without the benefit of a head coach and a coherent system to follow, it is clear that the overall process was lacking. That's fine all things considering, as we at least managed to see Randle and Clarkson perform, but considering the momentum the Lakers were building from last season as far as using summer league as a resource for finding possible talent, it's an unfortunate result.

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