Here is what you need to know before the Lakers tip off Summer League against the LA Clippers.
1) Laker Lonzo will make his debut
Two weeks after being drafted second overall, Lonzo Ball will get his first chance to show off for his new team.
Fans can expect plenty of unselfish play from the team’s new point guard, as Ball led the NCAA in assists at UCLA (7.6 per game). He should have plenty of chances to display his trademark transition decision-making during Summer League, where the defense is typically as sloppy as the pace is fast.
Lonzo will have plenty of options for distributing his passes, as each of his fellow draft picks — Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant — is an above average 3-point shooter comfortable with running the floor.
2) B.I. has adjusted his J
If anyone can relate to the attention that Ball will receive in Las Vegas, it is last year’s No. 2 pick, Brandon Ingram, who was in this exact scenario.
Ingram — who shot just 32.2 percent on jumpers as a rookie — has spent the offseason refining his shooting mechanics by working with assistant coach Brian Keefe.
Ingram has also been tabbed the leader of this crew by Summer League head coach Jud Buechler, who relayed that the Second Team All-Rookie selection has established a more vocal role over the offseason.
He already has the respect of Ball, who after being drafted said that he is excited to play alongside Ingram and thinks that he can become a star in the NBA.
3) Zublocka is looking for a repeat performance
One year ago Ivica Zubac used Summer League to go from largely unknown second-round pick to immediate fan favorite.
While many expected the then-19-year-old to be raw and slow against his first taste of NBA competition, Zubac exceeded expectations by proving to be instinctive, mobile and capable of shooting from the perimeter.
He averaged 10.6 points on 64.7 percent shooting, 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks during the event, and that final stat led to his favorite nickname: “Zublocka.”
This time around, Big Zu plans is looking to flash his 3-point shooting, as he has said that he will let it fly whenever he gets an open look from deep.
4) Vegas is Lakers territory
It’s the town where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke the NBA’s all-time scoring record and where Kobe Bryant won his second All-Star Game MVP trophy. Las Vegas is practically home turf for the purple and gold.
Let’s just say there’s a reason why the Lakers always play at Thomas & Mack Center (capacity 17,923), while most other teams shuffle between there and neighboring Cox Pavilion (2,454).
There should be even more energy in the arena this time around considering all of the buzz around Ball, who said that his family will be among the thousands of Lakers fans on hand come game time.
5) These squads have history
While Summer League is meant to provide a peek into the Lakers’ future, their opponent offers a look into the past.
This year’s Clippers roster includes Anthony Brown — drafted 34th overall by the Lakers in 2015 before being waived last preseason — and Kendall Marshall — who totaled the NBA’s 10th-most assists with the Lake Show four years ago.
From a head-to-head angle, the Lakers’ 30th overall pick, Josh Hart, helped Villanova defeat Clippers forward Brice Johnson’s North Carolina squad in the 2016 NCAA title game.
And Ivica Zubac had a double-double for Croatia in the gold medal match of the 2015 U-19 World Championships, though they still fell to Team USA, which featured Clippers draft pick Jawun Evans.
Along with adversaries, this game will also pit recent teammates against each other, as the Lakers’ summer squad includes P.J. Dozier, who is just four months removed from helping South Carolina reach the Final Four alongside Clippers rookie Sindarius Thornwell.
Tip-Off: 5:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. ESPN nationally