Los Angeles Lakers Summer League Roster Preview

Los Angeles Lakers Summer League roster

The Lakers have usually just gone through the motions in summer league, bereft of draft picks and decent rookies for most of the past half-decade, but needless to say, things are changing following one of the worst seasons in franchise history. After getting a top seven pick in a loaded draft for their trouble, the Lakers are indulging themselves in free agency to add big names as they are wont to do, but also trying to see if a few cheap contributors can be found among a surprisingly strong roster by summer league standards.

The rookies

Julius Randle, F: We still don’t know whether Randle will actually be playing since the Lakers are refraining from inking him until they resolve their free agent hunt, but should he make it to Vegas, it will be fascinating to see him in a NBA context. Bereft of good spacing to maximize his face-up game at Kentucky, Randle will have that luxury in Vegas and courtesy of his advanced ballhandling, hopefully will enjoy the lion’s share of possessions despite the standard guard dominated play. Also of note will be how far along the jumper he rarely showed in college is, as well as how his defense and rebounding looks on the next level.

Jordan Clarkson, G: A surprise addition on draft night as the Lakers bought this pick from Washington, Clarkson has superlative size for the point guard position, but still has to prove that he has the skills to man the position. Although he’s decent in the pick-and-roll and especially at getting to and finishing around the rim, Clarkson’s jumper tailed off last season for Missouri and it hurt what once looked like a campaign that would land him in the first round. Pretty much every report from draft workouts and, recently, his summer league teammates is how that shot has improved, which will be put to the test since Clarkson stands to play off the ball quite a bit considering the rest of the personnel on the roster.

Players Under Contract

Kendall Marshall, G: That’s primarily the case for Clarkson because of Marshall’s presence, as Marshall elected to play in summer league after a resurgent sophomore season dragged his career back from the brink. It still remains to be seen how effective Marshall ultimately can be in the league despite his poor athleticism, incredibly slow shooting motion, and general lack of scoring punch, but his court vision is top notch and before his numbers dropped off later in the year, was an insanely accurate three-point shooter. If he can add a good pull up jumper or floater to his arsenal, he might ultimately have enough to stick in the league as a backup for a long time.

Former NBA Players

Rodrigue Beaubois, G: After a promising rookie season, Beaubois was let go by the Mavericks, the team that had once prized him as a rare young contributor on a team that hasn’t had a lot of them recently. His recent numbers in Belgium don’t offer an endearing picture for him at 26 and it’s hard to offer much optimism for future at this juncture. He certainly has the physical tools to be effective, whether it’s a 6’10’’ wingspan that should make him a defensive force or sufficient athleticism to get to the rim, but he lacks the skillset to really make use of them. This might be the final hurrah for Beaubois as far as getting into the NBA is concerned and this squad has too many guards that deserve minutes for him to get much of a shot.

Kevin Murphy, G: Murphy was one of the D-League’s best scorers last season, putting up 25.5 points per game on a 58.8 TS% and putting up his points in a variety of ways, whether on cuts, midrange shots, or from behind the arc. Not particularly athletic or able to consistently create off the dribble, Murphy nevertheless found ways to be effective and it wouldn’t be that surprising to find him on a NBA bench somewhere next season. As far as this squad goes, the glut of guards might force him to the three, where he’s somewhat undersized, but he should be able to contribute.

Jerome Jordan, C: Legitimate seven footers will continue to get looks from teams for far longer than other prospects, but Jordan is nearing the end of the line due to his age (27). At a certain point, he either has what it takes to break into the league or he doesn’t. On that note, Jordan produced for Virtus Bologna, one of the better teams in Europe, last season and he’ll probably get the starting center position for this Laker squad, so he’s certainly positioned himself well should this be a final push to land in the league somewhere.

Trey Thompkins, F: Much of Thompkins’ appeal comes from the notion that he can play both inside and out, something that he did with mixed results at Georgia and was never really able to capitalize upon in the pros. He does have good size for a four, albeit a bit disadvantaged athletically, but it really comes down to whether his outside shot is falling for him to make any traction. Considering the power forward depth on this squad, that is especially the case.

Undrafted Rookies

DeAndre Kane, G: It still remains somewhat bizarre to list Kane in this section due to his advanced age for a UDFA and that factor colors an awful lot of his otherwise commendable performance for a solid Iowa State team. Although prone to out of control play, Kane improved his distributing and decision-making last year, and should his shooting translate, one can see how he ultimately succeeds in the league since he has the frame to be effective driving at the rim in the pros. The hard part for Kane is that the pressure for him to perform immediately is much higher than his peers as a result of his age; you can’t bank on a whole lot of future upside at 25, although he’ll have plenty of opportunities to produce on this squad.

LaQuinton Ross, F: Handed the keys to Ohio State’s offense after Deshaun Thomas left school, Ross didn’t exactly rise to the occasion and perform in a fashion commensurate with the talent that some evaluators claimed that he had. He lacks the ability to consistently create off the dribble due to a rather straight line drive game, so his main utility in the pros will be spot-up shooting and should he ever capitalize on his decent length for the three, possibly defense. Ross is currently slated as the starting small forward on a squad rather bereft of them, so we’ll learn pretty quickly whether he can cut it.

Anthony Ireland, G: The Lakers tried to mine the Southern California mid-major scene for a big time scorer last year in Cal State Fullerton’s D.J. Seeley and Ireland is another crack at that type of player. Perhaps best known for a scintillating 30 point performance against Gonzaga that earned him a standing ovation from the opposing crowd, Ireland is a tiny 5’10’’ point guard with range, but doesn’t appear to possess the necessary athleticism or skillset to overcome his physical limitations and ultimately crack into the league. Considering the number of ballhandlers on the roster, moreover, he won’t have that many opportunities to create and make inroads into the otherwise apparent reality that his basketball career will almost certainly be somewhere overseas or in the D-League next season.

Roscoe Smith, F: Part of the exodus from Connecticut following their academic scandal, Smith reinvented himself at UNLV as a smallball four, putting up a stellar 19.7 TRB% for a 6’8’’, 200 pound player. As his size suggests, Smith will have to prove himself at the three to have any future in the league, but he utterly lacks any sort of perimeter game and a career 27.9 3P% isn’t very encouraging in that regard. Although he defends somewhat well and has good athleticism, his tweener status is probably too much for him to overcome as far as the NBA goes.

Non-rookie, non-NBA players

Trevor Mbakwe, F: A rebounding machine in college and abroad last season in Italy, Mbakwe had a 19.7 TRB% for his entire college career, which is quite impressive. Unfortunately, he lacks much of an offensive game beyond controlling the glass and isn’t very useful outside of the paint; his sky-high turnover rate indicates as such. Mbakwe also has to contend with the reality that he’s an undersized four on a Lakers summer league squad that’s going to be giving big minutes to Julius Randle, so playing time is going to be rather sparse for him.

Xavier Gibson, C: Gibson was never overly impressive at Florida State and has bounced around foreign leagues for the past few years, most recently in Japan. The main attraction he brings is a legitimate seven footer that can hit from midrange and possibly from behind the arc if we take his numbers in Japan with slightly more than a grain of salt. He’ll get minutes since he’s one of only two centers on the roster, but showing range is probably the only way he ends up generating any noise.

Scott Wood, F: Wood is a designated wing shooter. Really, we can stop here. Rather short (6’4.75” w/o shoes, 6’4.5” wingspan) and light (177 pounds) for the three, Wood’s stock, as is the case for several players on this roster, ultimately depends on how well he’s hitting from range. For a bit guy, that’s ultimately the only way to distinguish yourself and summer league teams take chances on guys like this year after year, with usually disappointing results.

Renaldo Woolridge, F: It remains a mystery how Woolridge managed to make it onto last year’s Laker summer league roster, let alone managing the feat of doing so two years in a row. A bit player in college, Woolridge barely got off the end of the bench for the Lakers in summer 2013 and was a forgettable bench guy even in his last stop in the Serbian League. His inclusion is probably a favor and a sign of how many friends his father had in the Lakers’ organization more than anything. Given Randle’s presence as well as a far better player in Mbakwe ahead of him in the power forward rotation, Woolridge will remain firmly nailed to the bench for the entirety of his time in Vegas.