There were plenty of encouraging takeaways from Las Vegas Summer League for fans of the Los Angeles Lakers. Larry Nance, Jr. continued to flash the potential to be a top-level defender, rookie Brandon Ingram demonstrated glimpses of the skills that made him the second-overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and Ivica Zubac looked (surprisingly) ready to contribute.
All of those factors came together to fuel the Lakers’ 3-0 start in Las Vegas, but no factor was more crucial than the cold-blooded scoring of D’Angelo Russell. The sophomore guard averaged 21.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, four assists, 1.5 steals, and four turnovers per game in his four outings. Russell didn’t play in the Lakers’ fifth game against the Utah Jazz after the Lakers were eliminated from the summer league playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it seems the defeat may have led to his (and the rest of his teammates) not making either of the NBA’s All-Summer League teams, which the NBA announced in a statement on Sunday night:
Samsung All-NBA Summer League First Team
Tyus Jones (Minnesota)
Jordan McRae (Cleveland)
Bobby Portis (Chicago)
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia)
Alan Williams (Phoenix)
Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team
Jaylen Brown (Boston)
Thon Maker (Milwaukee)
Kelly Oubre Jr. (Washington)
Norman Powell (Toronto)
Tyler Ulis (Phoenix)
Russell not making either of the teams is kind of disappointing given how well he played, but there are only ten spots and most of the players on the list were rewarded at least in part due to their team’s success. If it is any consolation to fans upset about summer league first and second teams, Russell has in the past used “snubs” like this as motivation to improve his game.
And regardless of what teams they were or weren’t named to, the Lakers showed encouraging signs of progress in their rebuild during summer league, while simultaneously demonstrating why all of their potential will not win them a ton of games this season. They took steps forward, though, which is all that really matters at this point.
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