Although the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League is a tournament, the main goal for the organizations involved is to see improvements from the key young players on their roster. The Los Angeles Lakers lost their first two games, but have also shown vast improvements throughout the contests.
Entering the Summer League, head coach Jud Buechler stated that the Lakers needed to revamp their defense. His charismatic approach and constant energy has rubbed off onto the roster, as they have shown an improved defensive effort.
While Luke Walton, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka analyze the Summer League roster from the sidelines, they also take notes on their complete game. Those adjustments needed on defense will not go unnoticed, as it also translates to the defensive mentality of the team. According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, that defensive state of mind is something that needs to change over time:
“We’re just trying to change our mentality defensively where we take more pride in it and hold guys more accountable,” said Lakers assistant Jud Buechler, the team’s summer-league head coach. “I think we’ve made progress. That doesn’t happen over night. We’re not seeing it in the results of the win column. But you’re seeing little improvements through the last two games.”
When taking a look at the results of the Lakers first two Summer League games, you can see spurts of strong defensive production. During their 2017 Las Vegas Summer League debut, they held the Los Angeles Clippers to just 18 points in the first quarter and 41 for the half. However, the defense stumbled with the uptempo pace, as they allowed 46 points in the second half and were outscored 9-6 in overtime.
During their contest against the Boston Celtics, the Lakers once again clamped down in the first half. The Lakers allowed just 14 points in the first quarter and 34 points in the first half. However, they once again faulted to begin the second half, allowing 29 points in the fourth quarter during the Celtics comeback.
Through two games, the Lakers collected 15 steals, while forcing a total of 36 turnovers. Another key point that Buechler must be pleased with is rim protection, as the Lakers have collected six blocks each contest thus far. Buechler’s initial hire to the coaching staff was something Walton believed in, as Buechler has something to contribute to the Lakers.