And just like that, the Lakers’ time at 2021 Las Vegas Summer League is nearing its end. After the league was cancelled in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year journalists, bloggers and fans were able to enjoy a flurry of games featuring the best in young, up-and-coming talent once again.
Unfortunately, the Lakers were not able to return to the championship game (won in 2017, and lost in 2018), as they will face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in a consolation game to conclude their time in Sin City (the Celtics and Kings will play for the championship, but who cares about them).
Lakers face Jonathan Kuminga
The Lakers came out of their Friday night game against the Los Angeles Clippers victorious despite facing three talented players selected in the 2021 NBA Draft. That was a tough challenge for the Lakers, a Summer League team sporting zero drafted players. On Tuesday, they’ll again face a team with draftees, but this time they’re players who are looking much better than the prospects on the Clippers.
The young Lakers will be tasked with trying to slow down at least one of those better draftees in the 7th overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, Jonathan Kuminga. He’s been one of the best scorers so far in Las Vegas Summer League, ranking 24th in the league with 17.3 points per game.
Kuminga has really impressed with his ability to get to the basket and slam it home, with his force being fully displayed in the clip below. He’s an athletic and large 6’8’’ forward who was also one of the youngest players from the 2021 NBA Draft, as he won’t turn 19 until Oct. 6.
JONATHAN KUMINGA...MY GOODNESS.— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) August 13, 2021
The Warriors also have another exciting rookie they took in the lottery this year in Moses Moody, the 14th overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. He may not play, however, as he missed the Warriors’ overtime loss on Sunday against the Pelicans with a chest injury.
If he does play, the Lakers will be wise to try and keep him from getting open 3-point opportunities, as he is already showing the ability to be lethal from deep. Moody made 47.4% of his 3-point attempts in his freshman season at Arkansas, with little decline in those efficiencies in his young professional career, as he’s made 40% of his 6.7 3-point attempts per game in Vegas.
Yeah, I know. The last thing the Lakers and the rest of the NBA needed was for the Warriors to have another shooter.
A chance to get some players on the court
We may see some decreased minutes (or even some full absences) from some of the Lakers players, as head coach Quinton Crawford made an effort in their most recent game against the Pistons to try and give playing time to guys who hadn’t received much up to that point.
Most notably, Trevelin Queen and Tres Tinkle started in place of Vic Law and Justin Robinson. Both of the latter players did not play in the game at all, as Jordan Floyd and Romaro Gill were able to see some playing time. Gill had not played yet in Vegas, while Floyd missed the entirety of two previous games while only playing five minutes in the other.
“This is the point of Summer League, right?,” Crawford said after their loss against the Pistons on Saturday. “These guys come to us and entrust us that we are going to give these guys an opportunity to get seen. This is the dual role of Summer League. Obviously, we have players that we want to build on with two-way guys and Exhibit 10 guys, but we also have the other guys who fill out the roster that practice and they don’t complain.
“They show up every day and do their work. They work hard. It’s my job to give them an opportunity to be seen,” Crawford continued. “I thought tonight was the night for that with some of our guys being banged up again. That’s kind of what Summer League is all about. It’s about opportunity.”
With this being the Lakers’ final game — and it being the final professional game that some of these players may ever see — it wouldn’t be surprising for Crawford to again give some opportunities to players who may not have got as much of it in the first four games.
We have definitely not seen the last of Austin Reaves and Joel Ayayi, as those are the “two-way” players that Crawford mentioned. They are already signed to those contracts to play for the South Bay Lakers this upcoming season as well as the Los Angeles Lakers if needed. Also, don’t be surprised if we see Mac McClung and Chaundee Brown in South Bay, as the team has already shown they value those two by signing them for their upcoming training camp.
As for everyone else, you’ll get what could be the last look at them on Tuesday at 4 p.m. PT as the Lakers take on the Warriors. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNews.