High expectations have been placed on this 2015 Los Angeles Lakers Summer League squad, headlined by D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance, Jr, Anthony Brown, and Tarik Black. Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple good stat lines from Clarkson and high-energy spurts from Black and Nance, so far this young Lakers group has not lived up to the hype. Granted, this is Summer League, and this group had just four days of practice together before heading to Las Vegas; but let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly after the Lakers 1-2 start in Vegas.
Jordan Clarkson is showing why he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. In his first two games, he looked solid, leading the Lakers with 23 points on Friday night and 19 points on Saturday. Mark Madsen praised his high basketball IQ and Clarkson’s starting to look more comfortable taking on a leadership role.
Larry Nance Jr. is showing his potential, from highlight reel dunks to being all over the court defensively. After playing just 11 minutes in the first game, Nance took over for Julius Randle in their second game, who sat out for precautionary reasons. In his 28 minutes, Nance had three steals, two blocked shots, five rebounds, one assist and went 4-6 from the field, resulting in ‘Larry! Larry! Larry!’ chants echoing from Thomas & Mack. On Monday, Nance was once again active defensively, with six rebounds and three steals.
Though we’re not quite seeing the chemistry on the court just yet, Clarkson and Russell are developing a great relationship.The two are constantly chatting with each other and Russell says he’s been a great leader to him.
Russell also said that watching Clarkson’s growth has “encouraged him to do the same,” and Clarkson says he has all the faith that Russell will be a great player in this league.
In his two Summer League games played, Julius Randle is showing how much stronger he’s become in the last eight months. He’s getting to the spots he wants on the court and he’s able to get to the rim at will (The problem (*see “the bad” is that he looks rusty and he’s struggling to hit his shots). On a good note, Randle not only recognizes his issues, he’s frustrated with himself and determined to improve, “I’ve got to be better, end of story.”
You know what you’re going to get from Tarik Black. He’s consistently active on defense and he’s going to put up points and crash the boards. Through three games, he’s averaging 8.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
After sitting out the first two games, recovering from an eye injury, Jabari Brown gave the Lakers some life in their game against the Knicks, leading the way with 20 points and three steals, picking right where he left off last season.
The Lakers are struggling to make shots, especially from behind the arc, just hitting 23.4 percent of their three-pointers through three games (5-17, 3-14, and 3-16). And, the Lakers aren’t exactly impressing from the field, with their 36.7 field-goal percentage.
Though Julius Randle is getting to the spots he wants on the court, his shots are off the mark, knocking down just five of his 15 field goal attempts in his two games played. Plus, he could be much more active on the boards. In his first game back against the Timberwolves, Randle only managed to grab one rebound.
D’Angelo Russell is averaging more turnovers than assists through three games, turning the ball over five times against the Wolves, seven times against the 76ers and eight times against the Knicks. He had six assists in his first game, three in his second and just one in the third.
Madsen was forced to sit Russell during the end of their loss to the Knicks after his passes were missing the mark, though after the game Russell applauded Madsen for making that decision. On the positive side, Russell is recognizing that he’s forcing passes and “trying to make something out of nothing,” but we’re still waiting on the improvement. (Remember, it’s just Summer League!)
With the exception of his six rebounds against the 76ers, Robert Upshaw has been completely under-whelming. Besides looking completely out of shape, the seven-footer is averaging just 2.6 rebounds per game and has only scored two points in his three games played.
The Lakers offense looks completely stagnant, which isn’t helping guys find their rhythm. From too many Clarkson ISOs to everyone standing out on the perimeter waiting for something to happen, the Lakers are not moving the ball. And, it’s showing in the stats sheet. The Lakers have not hit the double-digit mark in assists in any of their three games. The Lakers had nine assists in their first game, just five in their second and six in their third.
The Lakers have averaged almost 20 turnovers per game. Even in their win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers turned the ball over 18 times. (D’Angelo Russell has 20 of those Lakers 59 turnovers through three games). Madsen said turnovers have been the biggest issue for this team, and after watching the tape said “as a team we need to value the ball a little bit more.”
The Lakers will look to make something more out of Summer League on Wednesday night, as they face the Dallas Mavericks in their first game of tournament play at 5:30 PM PST.
D’Angelo Russell Addresses Turnovers