Here is what you need to know before the Lakers begin the tournament portion of Summer League against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Lakers enter the round of 16 with an unblemished record, as they join Toronto and Chicago as the only 3-0 teams at the Las Vegas Summer League. Los Angeles stomped New Orleans and Golden State by a combined 33 points, while the only drama came in Saturday’s match against Philadelphia when D’Angelo Russell pulled his team from the brink of defeat by nailing a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to escape with a 70-69 victory.
Russell has been the Lakers’ clear leader in Vegas and a frontrunner for Summer League MVP. The 20-year-old is averaging 22.7 points on 53.3 percent shooting, while also chipping in 6.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals.
He was especially lethal in L.A.’s last game against Golden State, shooting 9-of-13 from the field while hitting four 3-pointers in only 24 minutes. Thanks to Russell’s offensive explosion, he and his fellow starters were able to rest the fourth quarter and still come away with a 13-point win.
While the Lakers will certainly lean on Russell, they also hope to have several others step up alongside him. Larry Nance Jr. took only one shot against Golden State, but he recorded a monster 13-point, eight-rebound, four-assist, seven-steal, four-block line against Philadelphia two days before. Meanwhile, No. 32 pick Ivica Zubac has looked solid on both ends of the floor, averaging 9.0 points on 64.3 percent shooting with 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
However, L.A. would certainly like to see second-overall pick Brandon Ingram snap out of his slump in time for tournament play. The 18-year-old has shot just 3-of-17 in his last two games and has missed all six of his 3-point attempts in Las Vegas. A return of the Ingram that averaged 23.0 points at the NCAA Tournament back in March would be huge for the Lakers’ shot at the Summer League title.
The Lakers boast three first-round draft picks — Russell, Ingram and Nance — while the Cavaliers’ roster does not have any. However, Cleveland has shown that it is more than capable of dealing with highly-touted talent.
In order to reach this round of the tournament, the Cavs had to beat Boston on Wednesday, which they did, 98-94. Though the Celtics trotted out four first-rounders — Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Guerschon Yabusele and R.J. Hunter — Cleveland managed to pull away behind 32 points from Jordan McRae.
Like Russell, McRae has been Summer League star, putting up 27.3 points and 13.7 made free throws in his last three games. The 6-foot-6 guard recently collected a championship ring as an end-of-the-bench player with Cleveland and was nicknamed the “Orange Mamba” while at Tennessee as a nod to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Among players who have played at least three games, McRae — who scored a D-League record 61 points in a single game last season — leads the Las Vegas in scoring with 23.3 points per game, while right behind him is the man on the other end of the floor: D’Angelo Russell.
Summer League is played under different rules than the regular season. These include:
- Quarters are 10 minutes long instead of 12.
- Halftime is eight minutes long.
- Teams are in the penalty on the 10th team foul or second in the final two minutes.
- Each team receives two, 105-second timeouts per half, which do not carry over.
- Each team can advance the ball to the frontcourt once in the last two minutes of regulation and any overtime period.
Now that tournament play has begun, two key rules have been changed:
- Players foul out after the standard six fouls, instead of 10 like in Summer League pool play.
- Each overtime period is two minutes long. During pool play, double overtime was sudden death.