Archive for the 'Summer League' Category

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Can DJO’s D Help the Lakers?

The Lakers lost 84-72 to Sacramento to fall to 0-2 in the Las Vegas Summer League on Saturday evening, but assistant Chuck Person isn’t overly focused on the win/loss column when reporting back to coach Mike Brown and GM Mitch Kupchak.

“We’re trying to see who can fill our voids when the regular season starts, see if anybody can crack the rotation and be a contributor when the games count,” said Person. “It’s more about that than results right now.”

One such player trying to prove that he can play with the varsity squad is combo guard Darius Johnson-Odom, the 55th pick in June 28th’s Draft, who has impressed L.A.’s brass particularly on the defensive end. That the Lakers look to such a deep second round pick shows the difference between them and the many organizations who feature lottery picks that will be depended upon to make an impact.

With a need to get playoff-ready performers to compliment the core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum and thus a lack of a first round draft pick — let alone a lottery pick — in the past few seasons, L.A. has instead filled the back end of its roster with a bevy of second rounders.

In fact, the summer league squad features five players taken (mostly later) in the second round of the past three seasons: Darius Morris; Andrew Goudelock; Ater Majok; Darius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre.

Morris and Goudelock proved capable of handling limited minutes during their rookie season. Both flashed signs of improvement at the first two games in Vegas, but neither was able to crack Mike Brown’s shortened playoff rotation. On Friday, the two saw their team dominated by a lottery-loaded Golden State team featuring Klay Thompson (2011 No. 11) and Harrison Barnes (2012 No. 7). Morris in particular was better against the Kings, scoring a team-high 17 points in 24 minutes, while Johnson-Odom’s defense sparked an improved team effort that produced a lead until late in the third.

Goudelock can score at the NBA level and Morris is showing signs of making plays and finishing at the rim with a stronger body, but for L.A.’s needs, DJO’s D may be most appealing.

“He’s defending very well and playing hard,” said L.A. assistant GM Glenn Carraro. “He’s extremely athletic – his numbers were off the charts when we tested him. We think he can guard the quicker point guards in the NBA, and he’s also handling the ball pretty well, so we feel good about where he can go.”

Johnson-Odom’s first action on Saturday came shortly after the 5-minute mark, when he checked in to check Jimmer Fredette, a big-time college scorer who averaged 7.6 points in 18.6 minutes as a rookie on 38.6 percent from the field. Fredette had trouble creating any space with the combo of Johnson-Odom and Christian Eyenga, finishing just 3 for 11.

DJO isn’t tall (he’s generously listed at 6-3), but he’s very strong and quick, a combination that reminds of an early Ron Artest, who moved his feet so well yet also had the strength to dissuade driving lanes.

“You have to have a drive to play defense,” Carraro continued. “It has to be in your DNA, and Darius definitely has it. He doesn’t back down from anyone and that’s great. It’s something we need.”

Johnson-Odom didn’t have as much success on the offensive end, hitting 3 of 10 shots after an 0 for 8 debut on Friday, but Lakers player development coach Phil Handy said he’s a capable shooter technique wise, which is backed up by acceptable shooting percentages in his three years at Marquette. He scored 18.6 points per game in 2011-12, behind 44.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three.

“I was known to be able to score in college, but I want to show everyone at the NBA level that I’m a great defender,” DJO offered. “If I hopefully make the team, I’m going to need to make open shots and good decisions with the ball, but I’m not going to be needed to score. I want to provide an energy boost and guard the best perimeter player.”

Johnson-Odom, who packs 217 pounds into his frame, explained that while he’s always been sturdy, he had a football coach that put him on a lifting program without off days — including on game days — that he found helped him with his general strength and with his shot.

That’s something that helps on D, to the point that Person said he thinks DJO could be used on explosive guards like OKC’s Russell Westbrook or Chicago’s Derrick Rose.

“I feel like I can keep close enough with guys that are bigger or longer to make it hard for them to get shots off, and I also have a long wingspan that I try to use to the best of my ability,” said DJO. “And I’m going to keep getting better.”

Johnson-Odom has three more games to build upon what he’s started in Vegas, and with perimeter defense standing out as a need for the senior squad, he’s off on the right foot.

Vegas Game #1: Lakers – Warriors

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening summer league debut in Las Vegas, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Christian Eyenga, Chinemulu Elonu, Robert Sacre
Warriors: C. Jenkins, K. Thompson, H. Barnes, F. Ezeli, J. Tyler

FIRST QUARTER
5:00 Calling the first five minutes a “slow start” would be an understatement … a series of clanked LAL jumpers resulted in Warriors run outs, and along with two Klay Thompson triples produced a 15-2 deficit. In fairness, Thompson, Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins all started for an injury-depleted Warriors squad for the final few NBA weeks, and their experience/confidence showed early.

2:57 Then we got our first look at Darius Johnson-Odom, the team’s draft day acquisition from Dallas (No. 55 pick) out of Marquette. He immediately offered two solid possessions of perimeter D, reminding us that GM Mitch Kupchak said we’d like his energy and attitude on the floor. An ability to inject a shot of energy plus some perimeter D from the guard spot (he’s a classic combo guy) is perhaps DJO’s best chance at earning some minutes off the bench should he make the roster. Alas, after one, L.A. trailed 24-12.

SECOND QUARTER
6:47 Showing that he didn’t forget how to score, Goudelock converted another J, and Johnson-Odom added free throws to get L.A. within 13. DJO’s D continued to be a boost.

2:50 Nobody spent more time at L.A.’s practice facility since season’s end than Christian Eyenga, who routinely worked with player development coach Phil Handy and other coaches on his handle and shot in particular. He had a slow start from the field, missing his first four, but announced his presence with an emphatic put-back slam off a miss in the lane. Eyenga’s athleticism has never been questioned, but he’s still working towards learning the game to the point of being a consistent contributor. The half closed at 40-26 GSW after four straight Darius Morris points, L.A. being outscored only by a point (25-24) after the 15-2 Warriors start.

THIRD QUARTER
3:43 With Thompson and Barnes again leading the way, Golden State pushed its lead back up to 19 at 52-33. Morris had a few nice slashes to produce buckets for teammates (three assists with four boards), and Goudelock added a triple (12 points), but L.A. was shooting only 26.1 percent. In other news, the media room had chicken fingers with buffalo sauce, which was nice.

0:00 With his father and Lakers broadcaster Mychal Thompson watching in the stands, Klay buried four triples in the quarter alone, six in the game, to blow the game open at 68-36. Barnes added three more triples himself, reaching 23 points to Thompson’s 24, the two a combined 17 of 26 from the field. #lotterypicks

FOURTH QUARTER
5:00 With the deficit growing to 77-38, L.A. coach Chuck Person continued to give burn to Goudelock, Morris, Johnson-Odom, Eyenga, Ater Majok and Sacre, the six guys selected in the second round of the past two drafts. Goudelock led the way with 14 points, Morris 11 and Eyenga eight, but being doubled on the scoreboard preempted any individual stats.

0:00 The bright spots were few and far between in a tough opener for the Lakers, simply outclassed by Barnes and Thompson, though Johnson-Odom’s D, Goudelock’s scoring and some driving and dishing from Morris showed something. We’ll see if L.A. can get better tomorrow against Sacramento, but your final in this one: GSW 91, LAL 50.

Summer League Tip Off

Click here for L.A.’s Summer League schedule

Vegas, anybody?

At 5 p.m. in Sin City on Friday night, the Lakers tip off the 2012 Summer League with a roster including at least three members of next season’s senior squad, set to team with several others looking to impress Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown.

Christian Eyenga, Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock already have spots sewn up on the 2012-13 roster, but are each out to show that they deserve a place on the basketball court, and not just the bench, once Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash get to the gym.

Meanwhile, rookie second round picks Darius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre are eager to show why Kupchak and his staff drafted them on June 28, while Ater Majok wants to show why he was a Lakers selection late in the second round of the 2011 Draft.

The summer squad will be coached by assistant Chuck Person, who will run Brown’s offense and defense throughout a 5-game schedule, opening with lottery pick Harrison Barnes and the Golden State Warriors.

Lakers.com will be there to cover the contest live, detailing what’s always an extremely competitive series of games, every player trying to show why he should be playing when the real games start.

2012 Lakers Summer League Roster:
Chinemelu Elonu, F/C, 6-10/235, Texas A&M/Pau-Orthez/Nigeria
Christian Eyenga, G/F, 6-5/210, DKV Joventut/Lakers/DRC
Andrew Goudelock, G, 6-3/200, College of Charleston/Lakers/USA
Garrett Green, F, 6-11/240, San Diego St./USA
Eric Griffin, F, 6-8/190, Campbell/USA
Lawrence Hill, F , 6-8/235, Stanford/Maine RC/USA
Darius Johnson-Odom, G, 6-3, Marquette/USA
Julian Khazzouh, C, 6-10/231, Sydney Kings/Australia
Ater Majok, F, 6-10/225, UCONN/Nitra (Slovakia)/Australia
Darius Morris, G, 6-5/195, Michigan/Lakers/USA
Toure’ Murry, G, 6-5/199, Wichita St. /USA
Reeves Nelson, F, 6-8/235, UCLA/Zalgiris (Lithuania)/USA
Robert Sacre, F/C, 7-0/260, Gonzaga/Canada
Greg Somogyi, C, 7-3/242 UC Santa Barbara/Hungary

Follow Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) on Twitter.

Lakers Summer League Schedule

For those of you that enjoy the lights of Las Vegas, the NBA’s best young players or both, the 2011-12 Summer League schedule will be of interest.

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE MATCHUPS:
Friday, July 13: LAL vs Golden State (5 p.m.)
Saturday, July 14: LAL vs Sacramento (5 p.m.)
Monday, July 16: LAL vs. Miami (5:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, July 17: LAL vs. San Antonio (3:30 p.m.)
Thursday, July 19: LAL vs. L.A. Clippers (5:30 p.m.)

The Lakers have not completed or announced their Summer League roster, but we might expect last year’s second round picks Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock to join Christian Eyenga and the player(s) that L.A. select(s) in the 2012 NBA Draft on a squad to be coached by one of Mike Brown’s assistant coaches.

Lakers.com will be there for the first three games, offering full coverage with in-game running diaries, tweets, video and so on, to make sure you don’t miss much if you can’t make the trek to Vegas.

Aside from whom we see on the LAL roster, lottery picks from the Kings (No. 5) and Warriors (No. 7) can be seen live; seeing the future of the league is always a pleasant prospect.

Caracter Finishes 3rd on Rookie Ladder

61057587Last week, Lakers second round picks Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks ranked first and third, respectively, on NBA.com’s Rookie Ladder based on individual performances at the Las Vegas summer league.

While the statistical production of Ebanks waned in L.A.’s final two games, Caracter fell just two spots to No. 3, finishing behind only John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, the respective No. 1 and No. 5 overall picks in the 2010 Draft.

Not bad for a player Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak nabbed with the No. 58 selection.

The UTEP prospect closed summer league with averages of 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds (sixth most in league), 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks on 59.3 percent shooting (second among players averaging at least 13 points).

Ebanks, meanwhile, finished with averages of 15.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range (5-of-11).

Both players performed more than well enough to produce some optimism heading into training camp, as summer league head coach Chuck Person said that both were “NBA players.”

Caracter and Ebanks will get their chance against some of the world’s best come October, when they’ll take the court with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and the rest of the Lakers.

Lakers Conclude Summer League with Loss

61057007It’s a good thing that the Lakers summer league squad was more intent on integrating players into the triangle offense than winning … because they didn’t win in Las Vegas.

An 80-71 loss on Thursday afternoon to San Antonio in L.A.’s final contest dropped the team to 0-5, though second rounders Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter ultimately showed some positive signs heading into October’s training camp.

Caracter scored 10 points with six boards, and Ebanks 11 point with seven boards, the two also combining for three blocks.

Both players were more productive throughout the five games than in Game 5, with Ebanks totaling 45 points in his first two contests and Caracter amassing three straight double-doubles.

Former first round pick and Slam Dunk champ Gerald Green had his chance to shine in the loss to San Antonio, using 30 minutes of playing time to score 18 points while matching Ebanks with seven rebounds.

The Lakers took a 35-34 lead into halftime, but were outscored 23-12 in what proved to be the decisive third quarter.

When the team gets back from Vegas, we’ll sit down with assistant coach Rasheed Hazzard for a more detailed breakdown, focusing on Ebanks and Caracter.

Summer League is for Teaching

61032591
LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE

The name “Bill Bertka” carries considerable weight in basketball circles.

The long time coach, scout and executive – currently L.A.’s Director of Scouting/Basketball Consultant – has quite literally been working with the game’s best players for longer than any current NBA player has been alive, and enters his 30th season with the Lakers alone.

We mention Bertka because before L.A. played the Kings in their fourth summer league game in Las Vegas, he revealed the primary purpose of the summer sessions for the Lakers: to see how potential senior team roster prospects (see: Ebanks, Devin and Caracter, Derrick) fit into the triangle offense.

Towards that end, Bertka and Lakers summer league head coach Chuck Person and assistant Rasheed Hazzard spent six practices teaching their players the basics of the triangle, and continued to preach the key elements of the triple-post offense through four games, with one final contest to come on Thursday.

As such, while the Lakers are trying to install perhaps basketball’s most intricate system, most other teams run more simple offenses in Vegas.

61032342In related news, the Lakers have lost all four games, most recently Tuesday evening’s 90-84 defeat to DeMarcus Cousins (19 and 12) and Sacramento.

The triangle, after all, can take years for NBA veterans to learn, so one can imagine what it looks like when a group of guys with no previous triangle experience try to get their Tex Winter on.

But as Bertka explained, that’s the whole purpose heading into training camp in October.

“We’re trying to show these players how to operate the triangle in a short period of time,” he said. “There’s a long way to go, but we’re pleased with the progress they’ve made. (Tuesday night) was the best they’ve run the offense thus far.”

Indeed, after shooting just 33 percent in a Monday loss to New York, L.A. converted 45.5 percent of its shots against the Kings, including Caracter’s 6-of-9 performance for 14 points, as he grew more comfortable with where to be on the floor.

“My goal has been to understand the offense overall in general, continue to learn and take the things that my coaches are telling me,” said the team’s No. 58 pick. “I think I’ll be a lot better once everybody else knows the triangle in training camp.”

It’s much the same in the NFL, when teams hold OTA (Offseason Training Activities) primarily to integrate their rookies and young players into the team’s offensive and defensive schemes.

And, after four games, reports on both Ebanks and Caracter are positive.

“They’ve done well with the basic parts of the triangle,” said Person. “It’s a simple but complicated offense, so the fact that they’re making the right reads, have the right foot work and are trying to do the things we do with our regular (Lakers) team.

“I think Caracter and Ebanks are definitely NBA players.”

All the post-draft buzz about Ebanks (43rd pick) centered on his defense, and while he didn’t disappoint in that aspect, he showcased a more-developed-than-was-reported offensive flair, averaging 17.3 points in the first three games before a 12-point performance against the Kings.

Caracter, whom NBA.com had atop the rookie ladder (with Ebanks third) after he posted double-doubles in the team’s first three games (17.7 points, 10.7 rebounds), posted 14 points with five rebounds and four blocks against No. 5 overall pick Cousins, who had a true size advantage against which Caracter battled ably.

“Cousins is a legitimate center in this league, and Caracter is a little bit undersized, but he has a good nose for the basketball, has good hands and he can jump, is quick off his feet,” Person continued. “I think he fared well, and as he continues to lose weight and get in shape and get acclimated into our system, he could (play) for us down the line.”

“Down the line” is what matters anyway.

“We’re looking for these guys to come into camp well versed in the things that we like to do out of Coach (Phil) Jackson’s system, so I was very impressed with what they did tonight,” Person concluded. “We try to get guys in the right positions to make the right reads out of the triangle, and I’ve been impressed and excited with the way things have worked out so far.”

That’s just how Bertka likes it.

TO WATCH SUMMER LEAGUE GAMES, CLICK HERE

L.A.’s 2nd Rounders Atop Rookie Ladder

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE61019324Each summer, NBA.com compiles a “Rookie Ladder” that ranks the website’s top 10 rookies in the Las Vegas Summer League.

The list is generally filled with lottery picks and a few sleepers, but after most teams have played two or three games, Lakers second round picks Devin Ebanks (43 overall) and Derrick Caracter (58) can find themselves atop the ladder, right there with top picks John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

NBA.com’s ROOKIE LADDER RANKINGS (draft position)
1) Derrick Caracter, Lakers (58)
2) John Wall, Wizards (1)
3) Devin Ebanks, Lakers (43)
4) Gani Lawal, Suns (46)
5) DeMarcus Cousins, Kings (5)
6) Eric Bledsoe, Clippers (18)
7) Magnum Rolle, Pacers (51)
8) Ed Davis, Raptors (13)
9) Landry Fields, Knicks (39)
10) Matt Janning, Suns (undrafted)

TO WATCH SUMMER LEAGUE GAMES, CLICK HERE

Caracter and Ebanks On Display

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE
61032592No Lakers news was going to push Derek Fisher’s contract agreement to stay with the team, announced on Monday afternoon, off the franchise marquee.

But over in Las Vegas, the organization’s two second round draft picks – Derrick Caracter (No. 58) and Devin Ebanks (No. 43) – continued to outplay their draft positions as they respectively took steps towards making the senior squad in training camp.

“That’s the goal,” said Caracter after posting his third consecutive double-double in a loss to the Knicks. “But right now I’m just trying to learn the offense and get better.”

Caracter started slowly in the Triangle O taught by summer league head coach Chuck Person and assistant Rasheed Hazzard, making only 3-of-9 first half shots while struggling with the length of New York’s Jerome Jordan and Eric Boateng. But in the second half, Caracter used counter moves and made all four of his attempts to finish with 16 points, alongside 10 boards (six offensive).

61032342When the Lakers drafted Caracter out of UTEP, GM Mitch Kupchak was pleased that he remained on the board so late, and said he liked Caracter’s ability to both rebound and score the ball. We’ve seen why with averages of 17.7 points and 10.7 rebounds through three games.

Kupchak also cited Caracter’s need to continue getting in better shape, as he had during his final year of college. Through three games, conditioning hasn’t appeared a problem at all for Caracter, who was energetic once again, as witnessed by the eight personal fouls he committed and those six offensive boards.

Energy was also a strength for Ebanks, who played all but 47 seconds of the game, but struggled with his shot in making only 2-of-13 attempts for seven points.

The West Virginia product came into the game amongst the summer league scoring leaders after averaging 22.5 points in L.A.’s first two games, but he wasn’t particularly concerned about his field goal struggles after the game.

“I’m just trying to work hard and do what the coaches tell me to do,” he said. “If my shot’s not fouling, I have to contribute in other ways.”

Ebanks was solid defensively, grabbed five rebounds and got up and down in transition, helping the Lakers take a momentary lead late in the third quarter before New York used a 9-0 run to seal the game.

He’ll have his chance to bounce back offensively in Tuesday’s game against Sacramento, when Caracter goes for his fourth straight double-double against Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins.

TO WATCH, CLICK HERE

Additional Notes and Numbers:
- Courtney Sims added 11 points and five rebounds for L.A., joining Caracter (16 points) and D.J. Strawberry (12) in double figures.
- Gerald Green scored five quick points in the third quarter to cut into what was once a 17-point Knicks lead, but the former dunk champ played only 10 minutes and turned the ball over three times. Turnovers were a problem for the whole team, who totaled 22 giveaways, the main culprit being Caracter (eight).
- L.A. shot a putrid 33 percent from the field, to New York’s 45 percent, but made 17-of-22 free throws (77.3 percent).

Lakers Fall to 0-2 in Summer League

LAKERS SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE

The Lakers lost their second straight game to open the Las Vegas Summer League as Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets rode a late run to a 92-74 victory.

Yet as was the case in L.A.’s first game, second round picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter showed why Mitch Kupchak and Co. drafted them, Ebanks posting a game-high 24 points and Caracter contributing his second straight double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

L.A. cut Denver’s lead to just four late in the second quarter, as Ebanks and Caracter combined for 18 points in the period, but couldn’t lead the Lakers back in the second half.

Ebanks, known more in his two years at West Virginia as a defensive player, showcased his offense for the second straight game, bringing his average to 22.5 points, and he added three steals on defense.

Caracter had worked his way to a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in the first game, and his 17-and-12 effort brought his 2-game averages to 18.5 points and 11 boards.

On the injury front, forward Rob Kurz left the game in the second to receive stitches in his head and did not return, while Nuggets center Brian Butch suffered a knee injury.

Next up for the Lakers is a Monday afternoon contest against New York.

We’ll be there in Vegas to cover you.

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