The Los Angeles Lakers have had a busy offseason. Dwight Howard left L.A. and elected to sign with the Houston Rockets, but general manager Mitch Kupchak brought in some quality role players to complement Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman and Nick Young—the new additions—will collectively share a huge role in the outcome of the Lakers’ 2014 campaign. Robert Sacre, Steve Blake, Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks will also need to thrive in their respective roles on the team.
Los Angeles is far from being complete, let alone a contender in the Western Conference, but it is in a position to greatly improve before the 2014 season tips off.
Los Angeles could really use some depth in the frontcourt, and grabbing a bruiser off of its summer league team for a low price would also preserve their ability to go after some big names during next summer’s free-agent market.
Some players who were expected to thrive in the summer league came out flat, while others who had less hype surrounding them came in and made great impressions.
Despite not winning the inaugural summer league tournament, the Lakers were relatively successful. They won a few games and got some good looks at the players they were interested in, but now they must make some decisions.
There wasn’t one player who carried the team, as it was a well-balanced effort in each of the games. As with everything, though, there were some winners and some losers on Los Angeles’ summer league squad when all was said and done.
Robert Sacre was re-signed by the Lakers, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, for three more seasons after stepping up and contributing during 2012-2013. After several call-ups and demotions with the D-League last year (where he put up about 11 points per game), Sacre will look to contribute much more in 2014.
Since he already inked the deal before the summer league tournament began, Sacre was one of the young squad's leaders. He played in three games and averaged 8.6 points and 6.6 boards.
Sacre will be a bigger part of the Lakers’ team next season, and he did well enough in the summer league to prove that he’s earned that right.
Chris Douglas-Roberts came into the summer league tournament as one of the most notable players on L.A.’s roster—he seemed like the one who had the best shot at earning a training camp invite.
Well, he didn’t exactly play like it.
Douglas-Roberts put up 8.6 points per game on an abysmal 34 percent from the field. He added 1.8 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game, but that might not be enough to earn a spot on the Lakers next season with bigger players like Marcus Landry really showing a readiness to join an NBA roster.
Marcus Landry looked like an NBA player on the Lakers’ summer league team. Pretty soon, he might find himself on the big stage in L.A.
Landry has just a year of professional experience (which came in 2010) under his belt and has spent some time in the D-League, as well. But the 27-year-old forward led Los Angeles in scoring with 15.7 points per game this summer and may have done enough to earn himself a training camp invite.
Landry shot about 42 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range through five games before L.A. got bounced by the Golden State Warriors.
After playing like a guy hungry to revamp his NBA career, Landry may find a spot on the Lakers this season.
“Josh Selby was on the Lakers’ summer league team?”
Yes, he was—you may not have noticed him, though, because he barely showed up.
After spending two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, the 22-year-old guard contributed just two points per game this summer. Selby, like Douglas-Roberts, came into the tournament expecting to earn a training camp invite.
Players in the summer league are hungry—some of them are playing with their basketball lives on the line. Selby may not have contributed enough to make it in the pro’s next season, although some team could bring him in based on his history of scoring outbursts.
No one is going to bring him in because of his summer league performance, though—that’s for sure.
If you didn’t know who Lester Hudson was before the summer league, you weren’t alone.
Hudson has played on five different NBA teams but has just 52 games under his belt. Despite bouncing around for a couple of seasons, the 28-year-old guard found his way onto L.A.’s summer team and made the most of the opportunity.
Hudson led the Lakers with 18 points in their final game against the Warriors and finished the tournament averaging about 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Hudson has also spent four seasons in the D-League with three different teams throughout his career. During his time there, the athletic guard has contributed about 17 points, six rebounds and four assists a game.
Hudson is a well-rounded player who can score, distribute and rebound—he was the first player in Division 1 history to record a quadruple-double, as reported by Chris Low of ESPN.com:
Three games into his UT-Martin career, he became the first men's player in Division I history to record a quadruple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals in a 116-74 win over Division II Central Baptist College.
Hudson can do a lot, and the Lakers would be wise to consider throwing him an invitation to training camp.
Obviously, Kobe Bryant was not a member of the Lakers’ summer league team.
However, the news that surfaced while the summer team was in action—reports that he could be ready to play as early as the preseason—embody what these potential Lakers should strive to be like in their NBA careers.
According to Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
"Well, we're in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason," Buss said during the Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks game at the Las Vegas Summer League. "He's real sharp in taking care of himself and he's not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He's going to come back when he's right. He's a machine. He's inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can't believe how much he's progressed so far."
While a group of players were out there grinding and trying to make an impression on an NBA team this summer, Bryant was—and still is—working as hard as he ever has in order to give the Lakers a complete season.
For that, he's a winner.