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Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Observations on Lakers' summer league

By Dave McMenamin

LAS VEGAS -- The NBA summer league will shift to its tournament stage starting Wednesday, with all of the participating teams having played their three preliminary games to determine seeding.

The Los Angeles Lakers went 1-2, beating the Golden State Warriors after losing to the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans. Beyond teams' records, seeds are doled out based on how many quarters a team wins in those games. L.A. won four of the 12 quarters it played, tied another and also won an overtime period.

The saying goes that basketball players' games are made in the summer, but at the same time wins and losses don't really matter. Developing winning habits? Sure, that matters. But the fact that the Philadelphia 76ers won the Orlando summer league before the Vegas slate tipped off will have little bearing on how the Sixers perform in the regular season next year. Half of the players won't even be on the team.

Regardless, with no real basketball to come for the next three months, the summer league at least gives us hoop heads something to talk about and analyze in the mean time.

Here are a few observations after spending a couple of days watching the Lakers in Vegas:

Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson has been impressive during summer league for the Lakers, averaging 18.7 points.
1. Jordan Clarkson looks like a steal
Clarkson's 18.7 points-per-game average is tied for 11th among all scorers in Vegas. Not bad for the No. 46 pick in the draft. A sampling of some of the names ahead of him? Otto Porter (selected No. 3 by Washington last year), Doug McDermott (picked No. 11 by Denver this year before being traded to Chicago) and Gary Harris (selected No. 19 this year by Chicago). And it's not just that he's scoring, he's shooting a respectable 44.4 percent from the field, a more than respectable 50 percent on 3-pointers (7-for-14) and perfect from the free throw line (9-for-9). Add in the tip-in game winner he had in overtime against Golden State and he's having a pretty special week.

2. When the Lakers finally hire a coach, he better keep the staff that's already in place
The days continue to tick by without the Lakers hiring a coach, but in the meantime members of Mike D'Antoni's staff continue to shepherd the Lakers' summer league efforts. Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis are the associate head coaches, upgrading from their normal player development coach titles, with Tom Bialaszewski and J.J. Outlaw, normally video coordinators, and Clay Moser, a team scout, serving as assistant coaches. It would be wrong for the new coach to clear out those guys this late in the summer to bring in his own staff.

3. Julius Randle vs. Nerlens Noel should be fun

The Lakers' next game will be Wednesday night against Philadelphia, featuring a great big man matchup in Randle vs. Noel. Brawn vs. length. Kentucky vs. Kentucky. Averages of 12.0 points and 3.0 rebounds for Randle vs. Noel who capped off his run in Orlando with nine rebounds and five blocks against Brooklyn. I can't wait to see Randle try to take Noel off the dribble. I can't wait to see Noel get beat and try to recover by going for the block at the rim.

4. It helps when you don't miss
Trey Thompkins, a former second-round pick for the Clippers, is 14-for-24 so far (58.3 percent). Trevor Mbakwe, who played in Italy last season, is 8-for-10 (80 percent). When you're trying to make a team, there's no better way to impress the coaches than to convert when you number is called.