The Los Angeles Lakers have used the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League to get a true insight into the young assets on their roster. No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball thus far has looked like the play-making guard they had envisioned, while the surprising play of Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and Thomas Bryant have all been added bonuses.
Ball is expected to be thrown straight into the fire of the NBA as he’s expected to be in the Lakers starting lineup at the point guard position. Head coach Luke Walton was facing some questions regarding his starting lineup going into the season, but had those questions answered when the Lakers signed guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The electric scorer, deadly shooter and lengthy defender has all the tools that fit into the Lakers system. During an appearance on The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe Walton stated that he is the likely starter at the shooting guard spot:
He’s a great fit, he really is. It’s tough to just say here’s our starting 5, but he’s a really good fit for that spot. I’m a big fan on competition and earning your spots, it’s why it took Brandon [Ingram] so long to get into the starting lineup last year […] I’d say most likely it’s kind of what it looks like, him on one wing, Brandon on the other.
Walton stated just how excited he was with the addition of Caldwell-Pope, especially considering his ability to shoot from beyond the arc.
Caldwell-Pope also adds to another key element of Walton’s system: spacing. Walton’s system is predicated on getting up and down the court and spacing the floor towards multiple options. With better shooting in the starting lineup, the Lakers can now capitalize on other areas of the floor as Walton also pointed out:
On paper, there’s spacing that we didn’t have last year which will allow Julius to do what he does best. It’ll allow us to get a little more creative in our offense as far as using Brook in some 3-point shooting, stretch-5 plays that really allow wings and other players to get to the basket.
Randle has done a tremendous job of changing his body and conditioning heading into the 2017-18 season. He will certainly benefit from better spacing as well as the passing of Ball.
A possible starting lineup of Ball, Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Randle and Lopez would be capable of competing each and every night in the Western conference. While the Lakers continue their run in the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League playoffs, Walton must surely be happy with how the team is progressing.