Lakers

Lakers Summer League Encourages Bright Young Future

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Lakers fans quenched their thirst for basketball in the 2023 NBA Summer League. The roster that LA’s scouting department put together is a sign of a promising young core.

From Max Christie‘s year-two leap to undrafted rookie Colin Castleton, the Lakers have some hidden gems in their farm system. Director of scouting and assistant GM Jesse Buss adds to his impressive draft and post-draft resume.

In seven total Summer League games (3-4), the Lakers have seen tremendous upsurgence from multiple players. Let’s take a look at how these prospects and how they may impact the franchise in the future.

MAX CHRISTIE

Entering his second year, Christie confirmed the foresight of many — he was bound for a leap. He shined in summer play — performing well enough to receive Second Team All-Summer League honors.

Though the former Michigan State guard played in only 41 games for the Lakers last season, he was always visibly comfortable. He did lack the NBA physicality, but he never seemed to be overwhelmed by the pace of the game.

In Summer League, the former No. 35 pick displayed the defensive competence that he’s always had. Although he came in as the team’s leader, he often differed control of the ball to display his ability to flourish off the ball — a role that perfectly parallels the one he’d play in with the parent team. Not to mention, he is still only 20-years-old.

Summer League Averages (5 games): 19.8 PTS | 5.8 REB | 3.8 AST | 49.2% FG | 55.0% 3PT | 96.8% FT

Projected Role: Christie proved he belongs in LA’s rotation this summer. He slots right in behind Austin Reaves as a prototypical 3-and-D wing. Many expect him to average around 12-15 minutes per game. However, it should not be a surprise to see him in contention for a starting spot later this year.

COLIN CASTLETON

Whether it is in second rounds or post-draft, the Lakers have always found that one gem. Two years ago, it was Reaves; last year it was Christie; this year it was Colin Castleton.

The former Florida center became an instant cult favorite among Laker fans. Castleton displayed prodigious ability with the ball in his hand. He was able to rebound and run the ball down the court in a Jokić-esque way. Unlike Jokić, though, he has a small frame and lacks physicality, which becomes a question on defense.

Castleton garnered consideration for the Lakers’ 14th roster spot as they continue to search for another big man. However, a stronger and more proven veteran center should adhere more to what LA is looking for.

Summer League Averages (7 games): 13.7 PTS | 9.0 REB | 4.3 AST | 56.3% FG | 80.0% FT

Projected Role: Castleton was an absolute score in the Lakers’ post-draft pursuits. Though he is not quite NBA-ready, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him in a few games over the course of the season. Regardless, The two-way rookie fits considerably into Los Angeles’ future.

D’MOI HODGE

It seems as though another undrafted gem was found in the likes of 3-and-D specialist D’Moi Hodge. While playing with the Lakers this summer, Hodge made it evidently clear that he will play in the NBA in his career.

In his final Summer League game, Hodge scored 23 points on a scorching 7-for-11 from beyond the arc to go along with five rebounds, five steals, three assists and a block.

A truly impressive performance from the former University of Missouri guard.

What you see is what you get with Hodge. He gives it everything he’s got on defense and is a threat from anywhere on offense. Additionally, his 6-foot-4 frame allows him to keep up with some of the league’s top guards. Whether it be this season or in the future, the Lakers found something with Hodge.

Summer League Averages (7 games): 13.1 PTS | 45.2% FG | 40.0% 3PT (22-55)

Projected Role: Like Castleton, it is hard to expect Hodge seeing any meaningful minutes on the main roster. Especially due to the abundance of guards present on the parent team. As a two-way player, though, Hodge is a key find that can prove to be a significant piece in the near future.

JALEN HOOD-SCHIFINO

The No. 17 pick didn’t have the greatest Summer League. Hood-Schifino struggled mightily in terms of his shot efficiency. However, the young rookie showed great upside as a gritty defensive playmaker. Watching JHS, he gives off the vibe of an old-school point guard in his ability to comfortably control the offense at his pace.

The Lakers don’t need him to be the main playmaker, however. Should he shoot at a decently efficient rate, Hood-Schifino could see meaningful minutes this season.

Summer League Averages (6 games): 13.7 PTS | 4.2 REB | 3.3 AST | 34.0% FG | 21.7% 3PT | 56.5% FT

Projected Role: Hood-Schifino fits well as the team’s tertiary playmaker. Given how comfortable he seems to be in a half-court setting, he can shine in the LeBron-less groups that call for more playmaking.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As has been noted, the Lakers are still in search of their 14th roster spot. While many of these prospects will spend most of the season in the G-League, it isn’t far-fetched to see each of them get a shot and make an impact with the parent team in the not-so-distant future.

LA’s top-notch scouting and drafting have paid off yet again. This time, with true promise for a bright future after the LeBron JamesAnthony Davis era.

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