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The Baby Lakers who shined in Summer League

With Summer League over, which Lakers improved their stock heading into training camp?

2023 NBA Summer League - Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Lakers ended their time in Sin City with a 3-2 record and, more importantly, some game footage of these young Lakers against NBA-level competition.

Yes, it's just Summer League, and we can add further caveats about the level of competition — how many of these players will play rotation-level minutes, and how unwise it is to take a ten-day sample size and extrapolate it towards a career.

However, this is all we have and where we are. This is the appetizer, and the hope is that this quick bite was an enjoyable experience and a precursor of the main course to come this fall.

We've already talked about Colin Castleton and his potential to be the center needed to partner with Anthony Davis. Here are the other Lakers who hit the jackpot in Vegas.

Max Christie

What's not to like about Max Christie's Summer League performance? He averaged 19 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists en route to making All-NBA Summer League second team.

Should he have been that good, given that this is year two? Yeah, probably. But how often do you see a player fall short, not progress, or disappoint? He did what he was supposed to do and did it well. He was more vocal in huddles, on the bench and on the court. He was charismatic with the media joking that he "felt like Austin" when he was at the free-throw line hearing Lakers Nation chant MVP throughout the Thomas & Mack Center.

Last year, he struggled with physicality and getting to the rim in Las Vegas; this time, he did so easily and converted better from the mid-range when the paint was too clogged.

Christie is on the roster and under contract, so the only question now is how much will he play. So far, he's given Darvin Ham a good problem to have, and his goal is to break into that rotation this year.

"That's really the goal. Christie said postgame after a loss to the Celtics. "Just to be in that rotation and impact winning however I can. Whatever the Lakers organization needs me to do, I'm willing to do it."

Jalen Hood-Schifino

The Lakers drafted Jalen Hood-Schifino 17th overall in this year's NBA draft, and he exceeded all expectations anyone could have had for the 20-year-old guard in Summer League. His chemistry with Colin Castleton on the pick-and-roll was such a natural fit that you have to wonder how good it will look when Castleton gets replaced with Anthony Davis during the regular season.

Whether he was finding the cutter, making a nice skip pass, or a no-look to an open shooter, his ability to distribute the ball was mesmerizing.

He also showed off his shot creation skills, often penetrating the defense and scoring on mid-range jumpers and runners near the rim. He ended his time in Vegas short with a groin injury but averaged 11.75 points, 3 assists, and 4.25 rebounds a game in four games — demonstrating why the Lakers drafted him 17th, and why he deserves a shot at being one of the Lakers' primary ball-handlers.

Cole Swider

He lives by the three and dies by the three. One moment, Lakers Twitter is rooting for him hard to get a crack at the roster; the next, he's a slow-footed tweener not big enough to be a four and not athletic enough to be a three.

You got the best version of Swider in the final game of Summer League. With Hood-Schifino and Christie out with injuries, minutes and shots were up for grabs, and Swider took full advantage.

He played a team-high 31 minutes, scored 21 points on 7-11 shooting, hit five three-pointers, and made the game-winning free throw.

Against the Hornets, you got the bad version of Swider — going 3-12 from the field, shooting 2-9 from three, and was consistently getting beat off the dribble. He did grab eight rebounds, but when it was a 50/50 board or a crowded paint, he didn't grab those. The Lakers won 93-75, but Swider left much to be desired with his performance.

So which is the real Swider? The sniper against the Clippers or the brick-laying defensive liability against the Hornets? We'll have to wait until training camp, but regardless of your opinion, there is enough evidence to support either version; most Laker fans will be rooting for the former.

D'Moi Hodge

Few players were as consistent as D'moi Hodge in Summer League. He was a 44% shooter from three and scored in double figures every game, except against the Charlotte Hornets when he went 1-9 from deep and only scored five points in a blowout loss.

Minus that blemish, he was a pleasant surprise. He produced well offensively and played solid defense by applying pressure on ball handlers and jumping passing lanes to create turnovers — averaged 1.8 steals a game in Vegas.

There's plenty to like about Hodges' game and the only question that remains is will he be able to still produce at this level when he's up against only NBA players.

What's Next?

With Hood-Schifino and Christie under contract, and Hodge, Swider and Castleton signed to two-ways, all players will be part of training camp, where they will be fighting for rotation minutes. In the case of the two-way guys, they can make a case to earn one of the two current roster spots available.

The two-way contract players can be listed as active in up to 50 NBA games, giving them plenty of opportunities to play and showcase their skills. They'll spend the rest of the time with the Lakers G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.

Given how well so many Lakers played in Las Vegas, it looks like the scouting department once again found talent in the draft. Soon we'll see that talent playing at the next level and hopefully, their contributions can add depth to the roster and raise the ceiling of what this team can accomplish in the 2023/24 season.

You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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