(Photo Credit: John Locher / Associated Press)
Much of the anticipation coming into the Los Angeles Lakers first summer league game was for fans and interested observers to take their first look at number 2 overall draft pick, Brandon Ingram.
To no one’s surprise Ingram played well, finishing with 12 points on an efficient 5 for 9 from the field. Ingram added 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal and an assist.
What many were not expecting was the impressive showing of the Lakers’ 2nd round pick, big man Ivica Zubac. Zuback showed both an effective low post, back to the basket game and rim protection ability.
In one sequence Zubac put on a spectacular display of defense, blocking two shots in the paint then chasing the defender to the elbow to contest the next two shots, both misses.
On offense, Zubac is a load to keep out of his sweet spot which seems to be on the low block. On one play he was fed the ball about 10 feet out and and he backed in 275 pound Liam McMorrow under the basket with ease. Zubac has a sweet stroke on his shot that he utilizes in his back to the basket game. Zubac’s very good looking stroke was effident on his free throws which he knocked down all 5 attempts in the game. Zubac finished with 11 points on 3 for 4 from the field and 5 rebounds in 28 minutes of play.
What stands out immediately about Zubac in person is his imposing size which doesn’t come out in video due to his slim face and arms. Zubac is stout, especially in his lower body. Zubac is listed at 265 with much of that weight focused in his massive calves; by far the biggest in the field of giants at Summer League.
While Ingram did not put up big numbers, he displayed his wide array of skills in his production. Ingram hit a few outside shot, showing his nice outside shooting touch; put the ball on the floor a few times and finished with touch around the basket; and was disruptive on the defensive end by altering shots with that incredible 7’3 wingspan.
The Lakers were led by their 2nd round pick from last season, D’Angelo Russell. Russell finished with a stellar stat line: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
Right from the start, Russell was aggressive on offense and went immediately to working in the post. It had been reported that Russell had been working on a back to the basket game this off-season and it showed. Russell already known for his touch around the basket showed his ability to back down his defender and knock down turn around jumpers which would be very easy for him to convert if he can continue to get that type of low to mid post position.
Larry Nance Jr. had a good showing as well with a much improved looking stroke and form on his outside shot. Nance tallied 11 points and 9 rebounds. Nance was 1 for 2 from deep which is a positive sign that he can extend his range and develop into the coveted stretch 4.
The Lakers do it again on Saturday when they’ll match up with Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. The game starts at 5:30 Pacific time at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.