Lakers Close Cali Classic With a Win

The Lakers concluded their two-game trip to Sacramento for the California Classic with an 84-74 win over the Kings on Wednesday night, before heading straight to the airport to fly to Las Vegas, where they’ll play several more games between Aug. 8 and 17.

Two-way signee Austin Reaves sealed the victory with an and-1 layup with 45.1 seconds to play, amidst a terrific fourth quarter in which the Lakers outscored the hosts 33-17.

Chaundee Brown had a strong effort off the bench for the Lakers with 12 points and four boards plus some strong defense, while Devontae Cacok added 13 points with six boards. Mac McClung pitched in 11 points in his 16 bench minutes, including a perfect 7 of 7 at the FT line.

Those are some names to get used to when the South Bay Lakers take the G-League floor for the coming season, even if minutes on the senior squad are harder to come by than in previous seasons.

Of course, younger teams often have more spots available for contributors than veteran teams like the Lakers have been for the past two seasons, but the development process remains a valuable cog in the organizational machine.

The whole purpose of Summer League, indeed, is to kick start the development of young players within respective team’s systems; it also gives players a chance to showcase their games to basketball executives in the NBA and around the world.

First round picks are almost always going to end up seeing minutes in the fall (guaranteed contracts don’t hurt!), while second rounders, and the rare undrafted player might impress enough to break into a rotation as well.

When the Lakers won the Summer League title in Las Vegas in 2017, they had a mix of all that … lottery talent like Lonzo Ball, late first round players like Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, and undrafted guys like Alex Caruso.

Caruso would go on to sign a two-way contract and compete for the South Bay Lakers, which is the path both Reaves and Joel Ayayi, undrafted free agents from 2021, are on.

Within that context, the Summer League coaching staff – younger coaches on Frank Vogel’s full staff – give the young players a jump start ahead of October’s training camp by introducing many of Vogel’s concepts.

“Frank calls me every day, after the games, gives me a couple of notes on what he thinks,” said Summer League coach Quinton Crawford. “Roster wise, scheme wise … lets me know what he thinks, but also gives me the room to coach how I want to.”

On Wednesday, Crawford challenged the players to be aggressive, and take pride on the defensive end, which are certainly Vogel hallmarks.

The main goal, he added is to play for one another, which isn’t always easy in Summer League, when everybody will naturally want to showcase their abilities for a larger audience. And yet, showcasing abilities often looks better within a team context.

“Winning helps everybody,” Crawford concluded. “We win, everybody has success. This group has been great. Really buying into this group, they’re buying into me.”

“We’re a driven team,” added McClung after the game. “Everybody here wants to win.”