The Los Angeles Lakers had a good 2009-2010 season.
They enter the offseason as world champions on a mission.
Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant are clamoring for a third straight title, meaning the work never stops.
For the Lakers, they brought in veteran free agent Steve Blake. Blake will replace at least Jordan Farmar in the rotation. The team is also involved in negotiations to bring back clutch guard Derek Fisher.
To add to that, rumors they are going after Mike Miller, the free agent sharpshooter, have yet to fully dissipate as well.
But in between all the action off the court, the NBA Summer League is about to begin. And even to a team like the Lakers, it may be more important than you think.
Even with such a stacked roster, player development can be key. The Lakers had no first round picks this year, so discovering a summer league gem isn't completely out of the picture.
Lakers Summer League Schedule:
July 9 - Detroit, 5 p.m. PST
July 10 - Denver, 3 p.m. PST
July 12 - New York, 1 p.m. PST
July 13 - Sacramento, 5:30 p.m. PST
July 15 - San Antonio, 1 p.m. PST
School: West Virginia Mountaineers
2009-2010 College Stats:
34.1 MPG, 12 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, .7 BPG, 2.2 TO
Devin Ebanks enters Summer League as the first of two LA Lakers selections in the second round. Selected at 43, Ebanks has the best chance of any player to make a summer statement.
At the small forward spot, Ebanks does a lot of the little things that are important to make a team like the Lakers. He is an extremely talented rebounder with a large wingspan.
He hustles on every playing and is willing to get dirty. His defensive versatility will make the difference for him at the pro level.
Ebanks has some solid offensive moves and is an efficient scorer. He is a bit timid when attacking, but when he does, he takes extremely smart shots.
Ebanks has a legitimate shot at making the Lakers roster. Players like Adam Morrison and Josh Powell may not be back, opening the door for a spot.
Based on how Ebanks plays defense in Summer League, he will either start the season a Laker or start in the d-league with an opportunity to work his way up.
School: University of Texas El-Paso Miners
26.7 MPG, 14.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, .9 BPG, 2.9 TO
Derrick Caracter enters as the second, of two draft picks for the L.A Lakers. He was selected at number 58 out of UTEP.
Caracter is built like an NBA player with a wide, strong body. He is extremely talented in the post on offense and converted 56.7 percent of his shots last season. Caracter has a lot of strength and relied on it too much in college. He won't be able to do the same in the NBA.
With him, it comes down to motivation. If Caracter displays the drive he did a times last season, he can become a productive player. If he resorts to the lack of hustle and effort he displayed at Louisville, where he was dismissed, he will fail miserably.
Caracter could be a solid rebounder and defender if he wants to be. He needs to control his fouling and fight for every ball.
With an extremely crowded front court, expect Caracter to play in the D-league for majority of 2010. The Lakers will want to make sure he has matured and is willing to do anything to make the squad. If he proves that early and often, he could be brought up as an extra body.
If Caracter stays motivated, he could become a fixture down the line.
School: Gulf Shores Academy (Texas)
Played 2009-10 for Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia)
27.6 MPG, 16.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.6 APG
Gerald Green enters as the elder statesman on the Lakers Summer League squad. He has already played for three different NBA squads and hopes to join his fourth this year.
Green headed to Russia for the 2009 season, playing for Lokomotiv Kuban. He had a productive season and hopes what he learned can translate to back to the NBA. He has great athleticism and a decent shot, but has never proven to be anything beyond a scorer.
Green has a shot to make the Lakers roster due to previous NBA experience. The most likely scenario for him, however, is to use his summer league experience to latch on to a different team's roster.
Green is unlikely to steal a spot from draft pick Devin Ebanks and will need to impress other scouts. If he fails to latch on to his fourth NBA team, expect another trip back to Europe.
School: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2009-2010 Stats (D-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants):
37.1 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.5 BPG
Rob Kurz enters the summer league team coming off an impressive D-League season. Kurz has previously played in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors and was signed by the Chicago Bulls late last season, but never played.
He is a strong power forward with a shot range extending beyond the three point line. Kurz has an unrelenting motor that has endeared him to NBA execs. Kurz entered the league undrafted and hopes to get another crack at a roster.
Kurz has a shot of making the Lakers roster, but like Gerald Green will most likely be auditioning for other squads. If Kurz continues to put in the work, he will be rewarded again. Expect him to be between the D-League and NBA next season, with some team willing to take a chance.
School: University of Pennsylvania Quakers
2009-2010 Stats (Lottomatica Virtus Roma, Euro League):
31.0 MPG, 12.7 PPG, 2.3 APG, 3.4 RPG, 3.1 SPG
Ibrahim Jaaber is a combo guard who graduated back in 2007 from Penn. He is a talented defender and that has translated from college to the Euro league.
Jaaber finishes well around the hoop and handles the ball well when called upon.
Jaaber has become somewhat of a summer league regular and it is no surprise to see him on another roster this year.
Jaaber will stick with his same plan from the past few years. He will play in the Summer League and then latch back on with a European squad. Jaaber's a solid player, but doesn't have enough talent to overcome his small frame.
School: North Carolina State Wolfpack
2009-2010 Stats (Euroleague, Strasbourg IG, France):
22.1 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG
For the second straight season, Ben McCauley joins the Lakers summer league squad. Last season, McCauley impressed in his first Summer League game with 25 points and 15 rebounds, but faded in the remaining four.
Coming off a year in France, McCauley hopes he can stay more consistent for this opportunity.
He has a decent jump shot, extending to about 18 feet. He can finish strong around the hoop and has good post moves. He's a bit raw on the defensive end, but works hard to maintain position.
McCauley should fare a bit better this time around in Summer League play. Don't expect another monster performance, but more consistent play the whole week. He won't make any NBA squads this season, but expect him to go back to Europe over the NBDL.
School: Michigan State Spartans
2009-2010 Stats (Euroleague, Caceres 2016 C.B., Spain):
25.7 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.9 BPG
Drew Naymick is known as a force on the defensive end. His shot blocking abilities and timing are the strongest feature of his game. Naymick is a scrappy player who can score off of rebounds or when fed around the hoop. He rebounds well and has decent hands.
For two straight years, Naymick has played overseas. In 2010, the Summer League won't change that. Naymick has created a solid niche for himself, but he lacks enough skills to truly make it in the NBA. This will be his first Summer League appearance and that is a step in the right direction.
School: Cal State-Fullerton Titans
2009-2010 Stats (D-League, Los Angeles D-Fenders):
30.8MPG, 12.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.9 SPG
Frank Robinson spent last season in the NBDL where he showcased some decent skills. Robinson plays good defense on the perimeter and is a solid rebounder for a man his size.
On the offensive end, Robinson can score, but struggles in many aspects of the game. He takes too many poor shots and turns the ball over 3 times per game.
Robinson is most likely to stick around in the d-league for another year. With the possible departures of Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, Robinson has a chance to impress with his defense. If Robinson plays the defense he is capable of, he may endear himself to the coaches.
School: Maryland Terrapins
27.8 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 5.6 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG
D.J. Strawberry is a solid guard with good size. He can play both guard positions and has good court vision. Strawberry has a decent jump shot and can finish nicely around the hoop. He handles the ball well and knows how to run an offense.
On the defensive side, Strawberry flourishes. He has the speed to keep up with defenders on the perimeter and throws in the occasional steal or block.
Strawberry has a chance to make the Lakers roster. He's been around a few years and has continued to develop his game. If Shannon Brown does not return and they want to use a guard spot, a good Summer League could catapult Strawberry into there. His most likely scenario is to stick around the D-league until a team picks him up.
School: Michigan Wolverines
2009-2010 Stats (Iowa Energy, D-League):
19.8 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG
Courtney Sims played in both Europe and the D-league last year. He was known at Michigan as an extremely soft center, but has improved his ability to rebound and play defense since graduating. He is a good scorer with a decent jumper out to 18 feet.
Sims won't make the Lakers roster, but will use Summer League to stay on the minds of GMs around the league. He has played on a few 10-day contracts and can hope a similar fate awaits him. It's doubtful that he will go back to Europe, so expect another D-league year.
School: Guilford Quakers
26.7 MPG, 19.8 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 2 BPG
Coming from a small college, Tyler Sanborn hopes this can launch a solid career. He helped lead his team to the Division III final four and was dominant amongst the smaller players. He is a very good rebounder and finisher around the hoop.
Sanborn has the size to maintain position on offense and defense. He rarely faced Division I schools, so the talent level will be a large jump.
There was no picture to be found of Sanborn. That's the first clue that he won't be making the squad. But with his size and abilities, he has a chance to latch on to a D-league team or head overseas. He is the least likely of all players to make the Lakers, but an invite to the Summer League means somebody has been watching him.