Instead of what has been the team’s typical Friday, Saturday and Monday games, this year the Lakers will play on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, the 7th, 8th and 10th of July, respectively.
That change doesn’t make much of a functional difference for the Lakers’ summer league roster, which is expected to be centered around Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant and whoever the Lakers select with the No. 25 and No.47 picks in the draft, but it does give fans an extra day to make it out to Las Vegas instead of trying to fight Friday afternoon traffic from Southern California.
In their first three games, the Lakers will face the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, July 7, the Bulls on Sunday, July 8 and the New York Knicks on Tuesday, July 10. The Lakers’ first two games will take place at 8:30 PM on their respective days with Tuesday’s game taking place at 5:30. All three games will be played in the Thomas and Mack Center (the larger of the two UNLV venues).
The Sixers, Bulls and Knicks should all have plenty of young talent in Las Vegas, offering an intriguing opportunity to see how good the Lakers’ current draft class is vs. some highly touted prospects, as well as a chance to see how much of a leap Hart and Bryant appear to be in for.
The rest of the Lakers’ schedule will be determined by how well they fare in their first three games, after which they will be seeded for the summer league “playoffs” over the rest of the exhibition tournament.
The Lakers won the summer league title last season, and should have a decent chance to repeat. Other rosters might have more highly touted lottery picks, but between Hart’s NBA experience and Bryant appearing to be on the verge of a breakout season thanks to his G League play, plus the team’s success in the draft in recent years basically ensuring they’ll find contributors with their picks, the Lakers should have a shot to defend their Las Vegas title when play begins.
That’s not the big summer win the team is hoping for, but they’ll surely take it if it happens.