Summer League is the NBAs equivalent of spring develop, drawing touted rookies, anonymous journeymen and diehard fans to the Vegas stripSummer League doesnt mean anything. Summer League doesnt mean anything. Summer League doesnt mean anything .
I have to keep recurring this mantra to myself when the Memphis Grizzlies DJ Stephens posterizes Thon Maker, or every time Devin Booker inters a three in someones face. Its mostly bad basketball played by a cadre of anonymous journeymen. Could I genuinely get excited about it? Can anyone genuinely derive any actual knowledge about player developing from a game where a second overtime period is decided on sudden death rules?
Im feeing a taco salad conspicuously missing any actual salad, and thumbing through a program with a list of every NBA teams Las Vegas Summer League roster. Save for the 30 first-round draft pickings and the occasional veteran trying to claw his route back into a paycheck( e.g. Michael Beasley, Jimmer Fredette ), its a lot of names Ive never heard. Eventually, I would find something to love about the Phoenix Suns Alan Williams and ruthless aggression of second-year player DAngelo Russell, but at the start, it was all an exercise in the unknown.
Summer League is the NBAs equivalent of MLBs spring training a brief window of time where the most diehard, obsessive basketball fans come together in one place to shoot the shit about hot prospects, declare gamble picks premature busts, and conjure up fantasies of their team seeing the next Jeremy Lin. This is the Lakers most optimistic season since 2012 a fandom version of the Amish Rumspringa , a rare opportunity to cast off the shackles of futility and ensure what the rest of the NBA universe is like, if merely for a few months before we all have to go back to the realization that the Lakers might not win 20 games again.
Being that its Las Vegas a four-hour auto ride from Los Angeles and an annual preseason destination for the team the Lakers are massively popular in the Thomas& Mack Center, the venue where the biggest games are played. This is an especially hopeful summertime for Laker Nation. Luke Walton has replaced Byron Scott as the head coach and the team drafted Duke standout wing Brandon Ingram to play alongside Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Russell. A young core and a trendy coach-and-four are a recipe for exhilaration, if not actual on-court success.
For all the talk about the future, Laker fans at Thomas& Mack Center still cling to the past. There are so many Kobe jerseys that one would get the impression that either he was making an unscheduled appearance in Las Vegas or that the garb was mandatory. LA advocates simply havent procured someone to canonize in Bryants place. Russell is certainly making a concerted great efforts to confiscate the vacant title of Los Angeless favorite athlete. His buzzer-beater in Game 2 against Philadelphia and his 22 -point first half against Golden state in Game 3 have NBA analysts calling him this years King of Summer League. Hes prone to the spectacular, eager to assert his will on video games, and loves a hot check. In other words, hes the prototypical NBA superstar-in-the-making in the era of Stephen Curry theatrics.
That hasnt stopped Lakers assistant and Summer League head coach Jesse Mermuys from criticizing Russells shot selection and prodding him to develop into more of a facilitator. Mermuys told ESPNs Baxter Holmes: I think what were going for is just impression the game, a matured approach to the game and team-first, team-first, team-first[ and] lets focus on the defense. Lets genuinely get a foundation, a solid foundation of a team defense, sharing the basketball, and then when its go time, its run time.
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