As the NBA Las Vegas Summer League comes to a close, the Clippers will play a consolation game against the Lakers after they fell just short of making the semifinals on point differential tiebreaker. The Battle For LA: Vegas Edition will take place at 7:00pm Pacific on ESPN2 and in the Thomas & Mack Center as the final game of this year’s Summer League before tomorrow’s championship bout. The Lakers finished 2-2 in their original four-game slate, with their most recent game being a 31-point thrashing by the Grizzlies on Friday night.
With the Clippers playing for nothing and some boxes checked, it will be interesting to see what players get opportunities in this last game. Xavier Moon has separated himself all week as a poised pro, while Kobe Brown finally put it all together to have an absolutely dominant performance on Friday. Has the team seen enough from them to give them the night off? Sophomore big man Moussa Diabate only played in the first two games due to a rib contusion, and presumably we won’t see him again tonight (although that hasn’t been announced by the team). Third-year guard Jason Preston has had a disappointing week in Vegas, being benched down the stretch twice for backupg guards (once Matt Morgan, once Keaton Wallace) who were more capable of helping the team win. Will he get another run-out or will the team feature the likes of Morgan, Wallace, and Castaneda more aggressively as they prepare to make decisions on camp invites and two-way contracts? Jordan Miller is probably a safe bet to play to get another game under his belt at the end of a quiet week, but you never know; the Clippers may opt to give free agents one last opportunity since Miller’s spot on a two-way contract next season is already secure.
I expect that we’ll see the full stable of reinforcements, as the Clippers’ bench is primarily made up of veteran free agents trying to get NBA spots. If any sit out, it could be a sign that they are close to securing a deal, whether in the NBA or something lucrative in Europe. That means Morgan, Wallace, and Castaneda should all be expected to play today, alongside wings Brodric Thomas and Jordan Bowden, and bigs Bryson Williams and Nate Renfro. Williams has started twice in Diabate’s absence, but struggled in both contests, with Clippers SL coach Dahntay Jones ultimately favoring a smallball approach around Kobe Brown with Thomas added to the lineup. We’ll see if that change is reflected in the starting lineup, if Brown even plays today. Guard Fred Sims is the last player on the roster and the only one who has yet to appear for the Summer Clippers; often, it’s normal for everyone to at least get a game, but Sims’ professional track record is pretty far below his teammates’ and I think it’s possible he came knowing he wouldn’t play unless guys got pulled out of action.
The Summer Lakers have been led by second-year guard Max Christie, but he missed their last game with a hip injury. I would expect them to be as safe as possible with a roster player who has already had a great month and hold him out again. Some other notable Lakers are 17th overall rookie Jalen Hood-Schofino and 40th overall rookie Maxwell Lewis. They’ve also gotten good production from undrafted sophomore Syracuse stretch forward Cole Swider, who played sparingly on a two-way deal with LAL last year, G-League vet L.J. Figueroa, and undrafted free agent big Colin Castleton, who is already on a two-way for next season.
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