TOP OF DRAFT BOARD SHINES IN SUM­MER

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Quick Hits -

The depth and qual­ity of the 2017 NBA draft had teams tank­ing at the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son in hopes of vault­ing into the top three picks.

With the huge caveat be­ing that it was only sum­mer league ac­tion, those at the top of the draft made quite a first im­pres­sion.

Sum­mer league play ended on Mon­day night af­ter the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers beat Port­land in the Las Ve­gas league cham­pi­onship game. Over leagues played in Or­lando, Salt Lake City and Ve­gas, many of the top 10 picks gave their teams plenty to feel good about be­fore head­ing into the league’s quiet pe­riod for the next two months.

No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball owned Ve­gas with a pair of triple-dou­bles and was named Ve­gas MVP. Top pick Markelle Fultz showed off his wide ar­ray of scor­ing tricks in Utah be­fore sit­ting out much of Ve­gas with an an­kle in­jury and No. 3 pick Jayson Ta­tum of Bos­ton was draw­ing com­par­isons to Paul Pierce while dom­i­nat­ing both in Utah and Ne­vada.

The com­pe­ti­tion these rook­ies will face will in­crease ex­po­nen­tially when train­ing camps open in Oc­to­ber. And there is a long list of sum­mer league stand­outs — Nikoloz Tski­tishvili, any­one? — who never amounted to any­thing in the NBA. But for strug­gling fran­chises like the Lak­ers, Six­ers, Suns and Kings, see­ing some real prom­ise from their young­sters the first time they step on the court is en­cour­ag­ing.

“Lonzo def­i­nitely gave the team a lot of con­fi­dence as this thing went along,” Lak­ers coach Luke Wal­ton said. “The way he plays, he’s al­ways got his poise about him, just an in­cred­i­ble bas­ket­ball player and with the un­selfish na­ture he plays the game, it just be­comes con­ta­gious and I think other guys started pick­ing up and play­ing off of that.” Ve­gas ti­tle game — Kyle Kuzma had 30 points and 10 re­bounds to lead the Lak­ers to a 110-98 vic­tory over the Trail Blaz­ers.

Kuzma hit 6 of 10 3-point­ers and Matt Thomas scored 23 points on 8-of-9 shoot­ing and 5 for 5 on 3s to help the Lak­ers over­come the loss of Ball, who sat out with a calf in­jury.

Caleb Swani­gan had 25 points, 12 re­bounds and seven as­sists and Jake Lay­man had 21 points and seven boards for Port­land.

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