The Five Best Lakers From Summer League
Evaluating the Top Young Guys From the LakeShow’s Summer
The Lakers wrapped up Summer League in Las Vegas with a 95–84 win over the Mavericks, encapsulating their weeklong Sin City stay with a 3–2 record after going 2–1 in the California Classic.
With training camp set to start in late September and the opportunity for some guys to earn invites, here are my top five Lakers who showed out in Summer League.
Although these guys have plenty of potential, I do not see them staying with LA long-term:
Fabian White Jr.
In my view, Nate Pierre-Louis played well enough to potentially earn a camp invite, given his defense-first mindset and overall energy.
5. Javante McCoy
The 23-year-old guard from Boston University showed his scoring prowess throughout the Lakers’ summer stint. In seven games, McCoy averaged 10.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 2 APG on 50–25–91 splits.
He particularly excelled as a midrange shooter and getting to his best spots on the court. He also read passing lanes well and was able to get some steals that led to fast-breaks. All in all, I believe McCoy has earned a training camp invite based on his standout offensive abilities, and there is a chance he could be a solid 3&D guard at the pro level.
4. Max Christie
Drafted 35th by the Lakers, the 19-year-old impressed me and everyone else primarily with his defense. He struggled with his shooting at Michigan State, and it clearly showed in Vegas, missing plenty of threes to start Summer League but growing more comfortable as time went on.
In Vegas, Christie averaged 8.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 0.8 steals per game on very poor shooting splits (28% FG, 22% 3PT, 86% FT), which can be attributed to his slow start. He still had solid performances later on, at one point going for 12 points and four rebounds against the Pelicans on Friday.
He has a ton of upside as a 3&D guard but may spend most of his first year in the G League, working to become a more consistent shooter and finisher and getting stronger in order to hang with veteran guards.
Overall, it’s important to remember that he’s 19 and the Lakers have him for two years on a minimum cnotract. As the roster stands right now, he will spend most of his time on the end of the bench, with the possibility of earning “garbage time” action before formally jumping into the rotation.
3. Scotty Pippen Jr.
Pippen Jr, one of two Lakers on a Two-Way Contract, also struggled with his shooting but was very impressive as a playmaker. He racked up seven assists next to eleven points against the Pelicans, and averaged 4.75 APG in eight Summer League games. Pippen Jr also showcased his ability to score at will, going at defenders with no fear and putting up 11 PPG in the process.
Scottie’s son came as advertised from Vanderbilt: a smart playmaker who struggled with his three-point shot. There is a possibility he could turn into a 3&D point guard in a year or two, but a stint in the G League would benefit him very well. Rest assured, Pippen Jr is a great point guard oozing with potential, but fans will have to be as patient with him as they are with Christie in order to see his real value.
2. Cole Swider
Swider is arguably turning into one of the best undrafted players in the 2022 rookie class. It may be a bold statement now, but once you look at his highlights, you’ll see what I mean.
The 6'9" Syracuse alum is an absolute sharpshooter — possibly one of the best in his class — and is currently on a Two-Way Contract with the purple and gold. He went 17-of-30 in his first five Summer League games and finished going 28–53 (53%) from deep. Swider averaged 13.8 PPG, 4 RPG, and 0.7 APG on 52–53–77 splits and quickly became a fan-favorite of the Laker faithful.
For all of Swider’s successes in the summer, the main flaw in his game is his defense. He wasn’t a great defender in college, and the trend unfortunately continued in Summer League, often becoming a liability on that end and being benched as a result. Still, he appears to be one of the Lakers’ best shooters, which is either fantastic or a failure depending on how you look at it. Swider has the potential to be a plug-and-play guy for the Lakers, and his shooting and scoring will be valuable assets for them in the future.
1. Jay Huff
Huff was far and away the best Laker in Summer League. Having experience with their G-League affiliate benefited him as well, as he averaged 10 PPG, 7 RPG, and 1.5 APG in eight games for South Bay. The 23-year-old was called up to LA, but played sparingly — four games — towards the end of last season.
Now, Huff had the opportunity to compete for LA once again, and man, did he make the most of it. He played four games, missing a chunk of time due to Health & Safety Protocols, but still boasted 10.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3 BPG on 57–50–72 splits.
He also proved his ability to space the floor, making four triples in eight attempts, a skill coveted by many teams around the league — but none other than the Lakers. Already having three centers on the roster — Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones, and Wenyen Gabriel — LA may not have much room for Huff; however, if he plays well enough, he could overtake Pippen Jr for the final Two-Way spot.
Huff was incredible with LA in Summer League. Hopefully, his hard work pays off with a camp invite and an opportunity to join the big club once again.
These five young Lakers stood out to me the most in Summer League, and they have incredibly bright futures — whether they remain with LA or not.