It’s summer time for the purple and gold, as the Lakers have sent a roster full of young players to compete in Sacramento and Las Vegas.
It’s a squad featuring two returning Lakers — Josh Hart and Alex Caruso — plus rookies Moritz Wagner, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman.
They begin with three games at the California Cup in Sacramento from Monday through Thursday before jetting over to defend last year’s title at the Las Vegas Summer League, beginning on Saturday.
Joel Berry II (G, 6’0, 195, North Carolina)
Berry ran the show for the Tar Heels last season, earning First Team All-ACC honors after ranking sixth in scoring (17.1) and among the top five in both 3-pointers and 3-point percentage.
Berry was the key to UNC’s 2017 NCAA title, as he dropped 22 points in the championship game, receiving the distinction of Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
Stephaun Branch (G, 6’5, 210, South Bay Lakers)
One of the top athletes in the G League, Branch put his bounce on full display for South Bay last season, carving out a key role on both sides of the floor.
Frequently playing among three- and four-guard lineups, the Upland native was a constant presence on the glass, averaging 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Jeffrey Carroll (G, 6’6, 210, Oklahoma State)
A shooting guard capable of hitting the glass, Carroll ranked ninth in the Big 12 in both scoring (15.4) and rebounding (6.2) last season.
Carroll also hit 202 3-pointers (2.0 per game), becoming just the fourth player in conference history to rank among the top 10 in all three categories.
Alex Caruso (G, 6’5, 245, Los Angeles Lakers)
If anybody can attest to the opportunities presented by summer league it’s Caruso, who went from little-known G League product to a two-way contract with the Lakers last year.
The 24-year-old was important to both Los Angeles and South Bay. He ran the NBA Lakers’ second unit for stretches of the season, while dominating the G League by averaging the ninth-most assists (7.7) and steals (2.0). He created havoc for opponents, finishing as runner-up for G League Defensive Player of the Year.
Caruso — who is playing for USA Basketball at the FIBA World Cup qualifiers — will join the team after the California Classic.
Josh Hart (G, 6’5, 215, Los Angeles Lakers)
Already emerging as the leader of the summer league team, Hart is coming off a head-turning rookie season.
He led his team in 3-point percentage (39.6), collected more double-doubles (8) than any other shooting guard and scored 20-plus points in each of his final four games.
He has been grinding away at his game over the offseason, particularly focusing on his ball handling and jump shooting. Summer league could be an ideal place to hone those skills, as he will be the first option on this roster.
The Lakers plan to have Hart — who missed most of last summer league due to injury — play just one game apiece in Sacramento and Vegas. Hart said he might petition for permission to add to that workload.
Demarcus Holland (G, 6’4, 180, South Bay Lakers)
An in-your-jersey defender frequently locked onto the opponent’s best perimeter player, Holland’s first season as a pro ended with the third-most votes for G League Defensive Player of the Year.
On the other side of the floor, the former Texas Longhorn averaged 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. A 3 and D prospect, he also shot a promising 34.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Nick King (F, 6’7, 225, Middle Tennessee)
King dazzled in his lone year at MTSU, breaking the school scoring record and leading the Blue Raiders to their first-ever appearance among the NCAA’s top 25 rankings.
He was unsurprisingly named Conference USA Player of the Year after putting up the league’s second-most points (21.0) and fifth-most rebounds (8.4).
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (G, 6’8, 205, Kansas)
When the Lakers drafted Mykhailiuk at 47th overall in June, they knew they were getting one of the best shooters in college basketball.
Consider that his 125 made 3-pointers were both a Kansas school record and the 10th-most in the entire NCAA. And he hit them efficiently, with a Big 12-leading clip of 44.4 percent.
Mykhailiuk’s marksmanship will be on full display at summer league, where the 3’s fall like rain. But he also wants to show off the other areas of his game, including his underrated athleticism and passing ability.
Malik Newman (G, 6’3, 190, Kansas)
Heralded by many as one of the top undrafted players in this year’s class, Newman was a flamethrower in his one year at Kansas. He was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year after averaging 14.2 points and shooting 41.5 percent from deep.
Most notably, he dropped a career-high 32 points — including all 13 of his team’s overtime tally — to lead the Jayhawks past Duke in the Elite Eight, as he gashed the Blue Devils with his dribble penetration and long-range shooting.
Newman was excellent at both creating his own shot with his dribble and firing off screens, which were key reasons for the Lakers inking him a two-way contract.
Malik Pope (F, 6’10, 220, San Diego State)
A Sacramento native, the California Classic signals Pope’s return to the city where his athleticism and length led to becoming one of the most coveted high school prospects in the country.
Two leg fractures ended that high school career prematurely, but Pope found a role at SDSU, where he was named Second Team All-Mountain West last season. He ranked among the conference’s top 10 in rebounds (6.8) and blocks (1.2).
Xavier Rathan-Mayes (G, 6’4, 210, Westchester Knicks)
Rathan-Mayes did it all for the Westchester Knicks last season, averaging 16.8 points, 7.1 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals — the last of which ranked seventh in the G League.
His all-around game earned him a call-up to Memphis, where he played five games for the Grizzlies in March. Also a competitor on the defensive end, he is looking to earn a more permanent role in the NBA.
Moritz Wagner (C, 6’11, 245, Michigan)
Lakers fans will get to see the team’s first-round draft pick in action for the first time, as Wagner joins the purple and gold after leading Michigan in points (14.6) and rebounds (7.1) during the Wolverines’ journey to the NCAA title game.
Summer league should be a good atmosphere for Wagner, whose game fits nicely in an up-and-down pace. The 25th-overall pick hustles down the floor in transition and is always a threat to spot up for a 3-pointer.
Point guards will love playing with him, as he sets mammoth screens and is a threat to roll to the rim (61.4 percent on two-pointers) or pop out for a triple (39.4 percent).
Johnathan Williams (F, 6’9, 230, Gonzaga)
Williams begins his professional career on the heels of back-to-back First Team All-West Coast Conference selections.
He provided some of everything last season, ranking among the league’s top 10 in points (13.4), rebounds (8.5), blocks (1.1) and field goal percentage (56.3).