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Lakers vs. Warriors Summer League Preview: Battle of California in Las Vegas

A square-off against the Golden State Warriors will be the first agenda on the Lakers’ Las Vegas itinerary this summer

NBA: Summer League-Charlotte Hornets at Los Angeles Lakers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After a quick trip to Sacramento, where this year’s summer Lakers team lost both their California Classic exhibition games, the team heads to Las Vegas for the annual NBA Summer League tournament from Jul. 7 to 17.

A square-off against the Golden State Warriors summer squad will be the first agenda on the Lakers’ Las Vegas itinerary. After the Warriors, the purple and gold will battle the Charlotte Hornets, rivals Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies in the following days after.

For the Lakers to win the Summer League championship, they’ll have to at least be one of the four best teams during the exhibition round and then eliminate each one of their opponents in the final four tournament. If you want to get to know the Lakers’ summer roster a little more, my colleague Edwin Garcia broke down each member of this year’s team right here.

Aside from the team’s overall performance, there’s a lot to look forward to in this year’s Summer League tournament from an individual standpoint. Each member is competing for something — whether that’s earning a legit contract in the league, a slot on the parent team, a shot to play in the G-League squad, or maybe even to become the next Austin Reaves.

For this corresponding summer Lakers team, here are two storylines worth keeping track of during the 10-day tournament:

Will Max Christie continue to impress?

Christie himself said in his exit interview last June that his performance in this year’s Summer League tournament will be vital for him to showcase his development over the past year and perhaps work his way into the rotation of the parent team next season.

So far, the 2022 second-round pick showed signs of further development in his second California Classics stint, after leading the team in scoring (17 in the first game and 25 in the second) for both games. Christie certainly looks way more experienced and stronger this summer. What stood out in the past two games was his ability to score in three levels and some of his improved ball-handling skills.

Christie’s Summer League performance this year is something worth continuing to monitor. It’s one factor that will determine whether the Michigan State product is ready to be trusted with a significant role on the Lakers’ parent team next season. All eyes will be on the 20-year-old sophomore.

Which rookie will stand out?

As for the rookies this year, Jalen Hood-Schifino and Max Lewis will continue to get their feet wet in this year’s Summer League. This is essentially an important time for both draftees as well, not only to get as much experience as possible but also to determine how ready they are to play professional basketball at this stage of their careers. Can they both make a case to play consistent minutes with the parent team next season?

Aside from Hood-Schifino and Lewis, the Lakers’ two-way contract players such as Colin Castleton (who balled out in the California Classic games), D’Moi Hodge, and Cole Swider will get their own opportunity as well. Which one of these three shows the potential to be the next undrafted gem? The same goes with Alex Fudge and Damion Baugh, two of the Lakers’ exhibit 10 contract signees. Can any of them earn an upgraded contract in the league? It’ll be interesting to see who stands out.

Notes and Updates:

  • The team’s former two-way contract signee Scotty Pippen Jr (sprained ankle) didn’t suit up for the California Classics due to injury. His status remains uncertain for the Las Vegas Summer League.
  • In this year’s summer games, expect officials to implement the new penalty rule when it comes to in-game flopping. Consider this as a dry run for what will be implemented next season.

The Lakers and Warriors will tip off at 8 p.m. PT. The game will be exclusively televised on ESPN.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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