It happened so fast. As quickly as it began, it was over.
No, I am not talking about the magical 2007-08 Lakers season; I’m talking about the 2008 NBA Summer League.
Somehow, the big wigs over at the NBA offices thought it would be a novel idea to collect nearly every Rookie and dude gunning for a roster spot in Las Vegas for a week of footloose and fancy free playing glorified pickup games. The rosters are amalgamations of marginally talented players, most of whom will never see the fourth quarter of a blowout game, let alone a NBA preseason contest.
The Lakers delegation to the Las Vegas Summer League was no exception. With the exception of Coby Karl and former San Antonio Spur James White, no other member of the roster has had any NBA experience. That fact alone could make any Laker fan cringe at the thought of sitting through 40 minute Summer League contest.
The Truth Is: A Summer League game is less arduous than one would imagine. It is like watching a reeeeeeeeally good High School team or perhaps a solid minor league squad.
Yeah, yeah, the Lakers posted the third worst record in the league at 2-4 and yeah, lunkheade former USC forward Davon Jefferson actually gained a job in this bastardized version of the NBA, all was not lost during this magical week in the desert.
The Lakers lone 2008 Draft Pick, Joe Crawford averaged a paltry 11.8 points per game (the team only averaged 79.3 points per contest), yet it is hard to deduce ANYTHING from Summer League. Crawford showed intensity and athleticism in spades. And in the Summer League, that can get a guy like Joe Crawford relatively far.
The Lakers were joined in Vegas by former UCLA center Lorenzo Mata-Real, who may earn himself a trip to Hawaii for training camp and a few ceremonial preseason games and perhaps more. Mata-Real could potentially prove to be a diamond-in-the-rough tough nosed defender in addition to another homegrown Laker hero. Born in the Los Angeles suburb of Huntington Park, Mata-Real attended South Gate High School and then UCLA where he teamed up with current Laker guard Jordan Farmar.
In addition to Mata-Real, another name to look for on the preseason roster could be former Maryland Terrapin Nik Caner- Medley. The 6’8” Caner-Medley, spent last season in Spain playing for Kalise Gran Canaria, where he won a player of the week award and led his squad in scoring.
Not to say that any Laker fan should run out and buy a Nik Caner-Medley, Lorenzo Mata-Real or Joe Crawford jersey, but it would not hurt to remember those names… just simply to follow them through their long and fruitful careers in the D-League.