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Lakers vs. Celtics Summer League Preview: LA looks to stay undefeated

Max Christie and Colin Castleton have stood out thus far for the Lakers in this year’s summer games

NBA: Summer League-Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers are currently undefeated in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League Tournament. They convincingly defeated the Golden State Warriors in their LVSL debut, and then followed it up with an impressive victory against the Charlotte Hornets for their second win of the summer.

The purple and gold are still in the running to win this year’s Summer League title led by a couple of notable names that have stood out in the tournament thus far.

In the last two games, sophomore guard Max Christie has continued to impress, displaying his glaring development over the past year. The 2022 second-round pick is currently averaging 16.5 points, 4.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.0. blocks per game in 42.9% shooting from the field in the tournament. He looks so much more experienced and controlled. Christie’s performance this summer has showcased the work he’s put into his game and body over the past year.

Compared to last year’s summer league tournament when he often camped on the three-point line, Christie has now morphed into a three-level scorer. He seems more stabilized on both ends of the floor, isn’t afraid to create his own shot, and knows how to blend in the offensive system. The Michigan State product might just have a role on the Lakers’ parent team next season.

Then there’s Colin Castleton, who arguably has been the most impressive rookie in this Lakers summer team thus far. The undrafted 23-year-old out from Florida currently leads the team in points (17.0) and rebounds (10.5, which ranked fourth best so far in the tournament) per game as he continues to make the most out of the opportunity he’s been given this summer.

The Lakers’ two-way contract signee has shown glimpses of his superb ability to pass the ball, position himself well inside the paint, his high IQ, soft touch around the rim and be a decent roll man threat whenever he’s utilized in the pick-and-roll. His offensive tools are impressive given that he went undrafted. Castleton has easily been one of the most fun players to watch in this year’s Summer League simply because it already feels like the Lakers might just have another undrafted gem in the making.

As for the other rookies, Los Angeles’ 17th draft pick this year, Jalen Hood-Schifino, seems to be getting better each game, while 40th pick Maxwell Lewis has shown promise with his ability to score from the perimeter and create his own shot. What’s worth looking out for, in the next couple of games, is how these two rookies continue to improve and adjust in the professional stage as each game passes.

Another thing worth looking out for is the Lakers’ two-way contract signees and whether or they retain their spot on the team. Currently, Cole Swider (who has had an up-and-down Summer League stint so far), Castleton and D’Moi Hodge occupy those three slots. The question is, will the Lakers enter next season with these three players on their roster? Or will someone else take their spot? These next couple of games will play a huge factor in determining that.

That said, the undefeated Lakers’ next opponent is their rival (yes, this applies even in summer league) the Boston Celtics. The C’s have yet to win a game so far this summer, so they may or may not just go all out in this one. Yes, it’s the Summer League, and the number one rule is to avoid overreacting to whatever we see now, but it’s still going to be a pleasant treat to defeat the Boston Celtics.

We’ll see if this summer Lakers team can remain undefeated and inch their way closer to winning this year’s LVSL championship on Wednesday.

Notes and Updates:

  • In case you missed it, rookies Hood-Schifino and Lewis reportedly have already signed a four-year contract with the Lakers last week. This is the first time in a while that the Lakers offered their rookies a four-year deal unlike in the previous years when they signed their rookies, such as the likes of Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker and Max Christie to two-year deals.
  • Scotty Pippen Jr. once again didn’t suit up for the purple and gold last game. It’s unclear whether it’s because of an injury. The sophomore guard has yet to play this summer (including the California Classics tournament) as his future with the team continues to remain uncertain.

The Lakers and Celtics will tip off at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be exclusively televised on ESPN.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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