The Lakers haven’t been known for their youthfulness and young talent in many years, which shouldn’t make it surprising that they’ve struggled in summer league play. Last season, they went 1-4. In 2011, the summer league was cancelled due to the lockout, but in 2010 the Lakers were an abysmal 0-5. You’d have to go back to 2009 to find a Lakers squad that broke .500 where they finished 3-2 (thanks to some domination by Adam Morrison).
However, after year’s of struggling, the Lakers finally appeared to have found themselves some young talent finally. Behind solid team play, the Lakers sit at 3-1 squarely in the quarterfinals in the inaugural Las Vegas Summer League Tournament. Their opponent, however, could be considered a summer league dynasty (for whatever that’s worth). Whereas the Lakers have had massive struggles, the Warriors have had immense success, winning their last 11 games dating back to July 2010.
The Warriors, led by the duo of Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green, have had their fare share of challenges along the way, most recently escaping an “upset” to the #16-seeded Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. It was Bazemore who led the way with 25 points, but none bigger than his huge 4th quarter dunk that turned the tide for a late, game-winning rally by the Warriors.
However, despite the discrepancy in records this year and in the past, these two teams are quite evenly matched. The Warriors 74.8 points a game as a team just barely eclipses the Lakers mark of 73.0. The Lakers 36.9% field goal shooting is virtually even with the Warriors 37.0% clip. The purple and gold do take the mark in three-point shooting, no matter how badly it is, as they shoot 27.1% from deep compared to 24.7% from the Warriors. The Lakers do average 0.8 rebounds more per game, but also turn the ball over at a very slightly higher rate (0.25%).
If you can’t tell, this will be a close game.
Don’t be surprised if Kent Bazemore struggles to get points tonight. The Lakers have had success in shutting down the opponents top scorers, most recently forcing Dominique Jones of the Bucks into a 2-11 performance. Reggie Bullock of the Clippers shot just 5-16, slightly worse than CJ McCollum’s 6-17 performance. With a host of solid perimeter defenders, namely Chris Douglas-Roberts and Michael Snaer, the Lakers can shut down opposing wing players.
However, they have struggled with big men, meaning Draymond Green could be due for a big game. John Henson’s recent 16 points, 13 rebound performance was the most impressive, but not the only solid outing. Meyers Leonard poured in 12 points and Thomas Robinson grabbed 10 rebounds against the Lakers. Fortunately for the Lakers, they match up better with Green than they have with any premier big man they’ve faced yet.
If the Lakers do snap the Warriors impressive streak tonight, they’ll face the winner of the D-League select squad and Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday in the semifinals, with the finals taking place Monday night.