Josh Hart shoots against the New York Knicks at the Las Vegas Summer League on July 10, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

3 Things to Know: Lakers vs. Clippers (Summer League)

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Here is what you need to know before the Lakers begin tournament play at the Las Vegas Summer League against the LA Clippers.

1) Hart is in MVP form
The Lakers enjoyed a first-round bye in the tournament thanks to a 3-0 record that handed them the top seed among all 30 teams.

Nobody had more to do with that than sophomore wing Josh Hart, who has been excellent on both sides of the ball in Vegas.

Hart currently ranks second in scoring at the LVSL with 23.3 points per game, and he has done so efficiently, hitting 47.8 percent from the field and 44.4 on 3-pointers.

The 23-year-old has spent most of the offseason working on scoring off the dribble, and it has shown in his game. He has gashed defenses with his driving ability and has sunk a whopping 4.0 triples per game, many of which have been set up by his handle out of isolation and pick-and-roll.

Hart has also displayed the kind of lockdown defense that the Lakers are confident he can provide in the regular season. Just ask ninth-overall pick Kevin Knox, who dropped 16 points in Tuesday’s third quarter before Hart switched onto him in the fourth. Hart silenced the young stud, holding him to 1-of-6 shooting the rest of the way.

2) No mo Moe
The Lakers will have to continue their Vegas run without first-round draft pick Moe Wagner, who will miss the remainder of summer league due to a left knee contusion.

Wagner was everywhere for the Lakers during their first three games, averaging 10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks.

Offensively, he wasn’t as efficient as usual, hitting just 36.7 percent from the field and 2-of-9 beyond the arc. But he nonetheless flashed his unique skill set by taking defenders off the dribble, hitting jumpers and setting smart, sturdy screens.

He was vital on the defensive side. Along with creating turnovers thanks to his quick hands and good instincts, Wagner directed the Lakers’ defense by reliably calling out coverages to the other guys on the floor. And he served as the last line of defense, protecting the rim with verticality.

With Wagner out, look for more minutes to be distributed to Nick King (14.0 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Jeff Ayres (7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds).

3) SGA is the Clippers’ clear leader
Eleventh-overall pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has wasted no time introducing his skills to the Clippers’ summer squad, leading the team in scoring (19.0), assists (4.0) and steals (2.3).

The Kentucky product has been difficult to keep out of the paint, slashing inside for the majority of his buckets and shooting 50.0 percent on two-pointers. That’s also where he has been able to set up his teammates for drive-and-kick assists.

Defensively, he has the long arms and quickness to be a problem on and off the ball at the NBA level, as summer league opponents have discovered.

With each player starts at a different guard spot, we will likely see Hart matchup against Gilgeous-Alexander at some point, pitting proven talent against promising potential.

Tip-Off: 5:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet in L.A. ESPN 2 nationally
Location: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, Nevada

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