Ball and Kuzma return for tournament portion of Summer League
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers begin the tournament portion of Summer League against the Philadelphia 76ers.
1) It’s finally tournament time
After three games to decide seeding, it’s now win or go home at Summer League.
Well, actually it’s win or play in a consolation game on Friday.
But the Lakers have plans to instead advance to Thursday’s round of 16. Should it defeat the Sixers, Los Angeles will face the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2) Ball’s back, but we’ll have to wait for 1 vs. 2
At first glance, this would appear to be a matchup between the NBA’s top two draft picks: Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz and L.A.’s Lonzo Ball.
However, Fultz has been shut down for Summer League due to a sprained ankle, while Ball missed last game because of a sore groin.
However, if Ball — who had a triple-double in Saturday’s contest — will return against the Sixers, and he’ll go head-to-head with the man whose UCLA single-season assists record he broke: Larry Drew II.
Drew — an L.A. native and Taft High grad — has plenty of history with the Lakers. He played at both North Carolina and UCLA alongside Summer League forward Travis Wear. Plus, his father, Larry Sr., finished his playing career with the Lakers (1989-91) and then served as an assistant from 1992-99.
Ball is averaging an event-high 8.0 assists at Summer League, while Drew is fifth with 5.3.
3) Nwaba has been waived
Despite impressing the Lakers with his defense during the final two months of the regular season, David Nwaba was waived by the team Wednesday morning.
The hometown product had scrapped his way from trying out for the G League in October to starting for the Lakers in March.
He had also been one of the Lakers’ top talents at Summer League. averaging 9.7 points, 6.3 rebounds while peppering in a handful of eye-opening dunks.
Should he not return for tournament action, his final play of the event was a great one, as his trademark defense forced Buddy Hield’s game-tying attempt to airball in Monday’s win over Sacramento.
4) Serbia has eyes on this one
One year ago, just months before being drafted, L.A.’s Ivica Zubac teamed up with Philly’s Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to play for Mega Leks of the Adriatic League.
Since then, Zubac has gone on to become a fan favorite after averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting the second-best field goal percentage among rookies last year (52.9).
Meanwhile, Luwawu-Cabarrot picked up his game post-All-Star Break, putting up 11.0 points in the final stretch of the year.
However, both players are looking to break through respective slumps at Summer League.
Zubac has been held to 6.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.3 blocks and 37.5 percent shooting thus far, while Luwawu-Cabarrot has shot just 31.6 percent and needed five facial stitches after cutting open his lip in Philadelphia’s Vegas opener.
5) Alex Caruso is winning people over
Starting in place of Ball on Monday, Alex Caruso hit cult hero status by taking over the game with stylish passing, hustle plays and 3-point shooting.
The 6-foot-5 point guard finished the night with 18 points, nine assists, four steals and thousands of impressed Lakers fans.
Caruso and Vander Blue — who led the team with 21 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter — pushed the Lakers’ skeleton crew past the Kings, as they were without Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram due to various injuries.
They could be called upon again, as Ingram, Hart and P.J. Dozier will not play against the Sixers. Fortunately for the Lakers, Kuzma — who exploded for 31 points on Saturday — will be available for the Summer League playoff opener.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. ESPN2 nationally
Radio: ESPN 710
A post shared by Lakers Scene (@lakersscene) on Jul 10, 2017 at 8:53pm PDT