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Lakers finish summer league with 83-77 victory over Nuggets

In the last bit of Lakers basketball we will get to see until training camp opens up, the Lakers put together a solid overall effort against the Nuggets as Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson both struggled.

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

This hasn't been one of the better run summer league teams as of late, but with the memory of the Lakers' 2012 team still fresh in our minds, it's hard to not emerge from this last game with a decent amount of optimism. Despite getting lackluster performances from their draft picks in Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers managed to ride the play of their secondary and tertiary options that haven't really been distinguishing themselves in the past few games to a win. It's unclear whether this is due to the players finally flipping a switch on both ends or accepting whatever Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis have been trying to implement in practice, but needless to say, this hopefully will all become a moot point when a head coach is hired.

At least we can say that Kevin Murphy's good play isn't that much of a surprise, as he's quietly been one of the more solid performers for the Lakers in Vegas and at this point, has the best case for a camp invite. Murphy's done most of his damage off the ball, rubbing off screens to get space for his decent long range game and using fakes to get open from midrange. He was especially able to leverage the latter into fouls, getting to the line ten times, and as a whole, the offense looked much more fluid when he was present as led the team with 14 points on a decent 56.5 TS%. The parent team's roster is almost completely set now, but if there's any room for depth, it would be on the wings and Murphy has a good of a shot there as anyone.

This does, however, mean that the prospects for any frontcourt player not named Randle are fairly dismal moving forward. The coaching staff sat Trey Thompkins for the entirety of the game, apparently satisfied in what they have seen from him so far, but with six players manning the four and the five, it doesn't make sense to add anyone more in that area. For the non-Thompkins frontcourt players on the roster, none of them are deserving an invite in any case, Xavier Gibson's 13 point performance last night notwithstanding. The offense certainly hasn't been very conducive to good big man play, but no one has really taken advantage of their opportunities either.

Such a statement would usually segue into how Randle's unusually strong face-up skill set allowed him to succeed regardless, but he had by far his worst performance in Vegas, looking relatively lifeless on both ends until the fourth quarter. A good chunk of this is no doubt attributable to fatigue and poor conditioning; Randle was still getting to the rim but simply not finishing and he looked exceptionally heavy on defense despite being rather crisp the previous few games. Denver's Jerelle Benimon outplayed him for most of the contest and Randle looked fairly hapless in comparison until the aforementioned fourth quarter, when he managed to sink a few baskets going at the rim to help the Lakers secure their lead. It's not that much of a concern moving forward, but it does emphasize that Randle getting into better shape should be a key priority in training camp.

As far as other notable performers go, Jordan Clarkson had a rather mediocre games by the standard he's set for himself so far in summer league and DeAndre Kane finally managed to put together a performance more in line what we thought he was going to be producing every game. That statement there more or less indicates the sheer gap between those two as far as the parent team is concerned, as the front office should be focused on giving Clarkson as many years as possible on his rookie deal whereas Kane is going to be abroad somewhere or in the D-League. While his 12/3/3 performance was very good all things considering, it doesn't wipe out the stink of what were two putrid ones prior to this.

Altogether, despite some rocky ups and downs, the Lakers mostly accomplished what they set out to do in summer league, namely getting a sense for what Randle and Clarkson can do as well as trying to see if any other contributors can be found. Murphy and Thompkins certainly aren't exciting candidates, but they at least should probably be getting camp invites for the team to get another look at them, which counts as success as far as summer league goes. We'll probably never know how much the overall dysfunction of not having a coach or system in place impacted some of the players here, but it is good to know that the newest Lakers are something worth looking forward to when the regular season rolls around.

Follow this author on Twitter @brosales12.

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