The Los Angeles Lakers officially started the preseason on Saturday night as the team was up in San Francisco to take on the Golden State Warriors. While the Lakers lost, there is an immense buzz in the fanbase as Lakers basketball is back.
Wins and losses do not matter in the preseason so there is no reason for fans to get caught up on the final outcome. Instead, fans should be dissecting the things they saw on the individual level for several players on the roster.
LA’s roster is mostly set in stone as the team has 14 players signed. However, a strong preseason could force the team’s hand to make some changes, as has happened in the past. While more has to be done, one of the Lakers’ two-way players had an excellent start to potentially challenge for a roster spot.
D’Moi Hodge turns heads in the Lakers preseason opener
D’Moi Hodge signed with the Lakers as an undrafted free agent following the 2023 NBA Draft. Lakers fans instantly compared Hodge’s game to that of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, with Hodge later confirming that he models his game after KCP.
Hodge’s strong perimeter defense and smooth three-point stroke instantly give him value as a potential NBA rotation player. That is what allowed him to thrive in the Summer League for the Lakers while it also netted him a two-way deal in LA.
Hodge continued his strong play and turned heads in his short time on the floor against the Warriors. The 24-year-old scored eight points in eight minutes and was not afraid to take shots. He made three of seven from the floor and two of six from three.
As part of the two-way deal, Hodge could play as many as 50 games with the Lakers this season. However, with that roster spot not being used, it may benefit Hodge and the team to allow him to travel with the NBA club and occasionally be assigned to South Bay like Max Christie was a year ago.
It isn’t like Hodge is an extremely young prospect that needs to develop in the G League. He is going to be 25 in December. He is nearly as old as Austin Reaves. There is no need for any physical development and Los Angeles should give him a chance as early as 2023.
After all, there is not much shooting guard depth on the roster. Christie is the only backup two-guard and while he looked great on Saturday, trusting a second-year second-round pick as the only backup option could come back to bite.
The only reason not to convert Hodge’s contract to a standard NBA contract is in case there is a buyout target that makes sense in the future. However, the buyout market does not even look that great and if there is a compelling option then LA can simply waive one of the team’s underperformers.