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Summer League: Lakers smother Heat in California Classic opener

To say the Lakers routed the Heat in their Summer League opener on Saturday against the Heat as part of the California Classic would be a vast understatement. The Lakers led wire-to-wire and flirted with a 40-point lead in the fourth quarter, eventually winning 100-66.

It wasn’t perhaps the expected suspects that did the damage as Max Christie, the Lakers No. 35 overall selection in the 2022 NBA Draft, struggled shooting the ball in his debut. Two-way signing Scotty Pippen Jr. got going more in the second half and fourth quarter, but fellow two-way player Cole Swider was one of the team’s top scorers with 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from range.

Mac McClung led the team in scoring with 17 points off the bench while Paris Bass chipped in 15 points. Pippen Jr. did get into double figures with 12, as did Vitto Brown with 11.

To save myself — and everyone reading this — from writing a recap of a Summer League game, let’s instead look at a couple takeaways from the first Summer League game of 2022.

Jay Huff impresses

On the list of Lakers fans were excited to see coming into Summer League, Jay Huff certainly would not have ranked highly on that list. However, the big man showed why the Lakers had him on a two-way deal last season at one point and why his future could be bright.

Huff defended the rim exceptionally well on the day, both in transition and the half-court. Officially, he was credited with only two blocks but that both feels inaccurate and doesn’t feel encapsulate how many shots he changed at the rim on the day.

He mixed that in with an offensive output that included a 3-pointer and a pair of athletic finishes at the rim as well as some nice passes out of short roll situations that impressed. It may only be one Summer League game but Huff has been on the Lakers radar for a while and in-house for a while now. Our own Cooper Halpern profiled him during his season with South Bay last year.

If he continues playing as he did on Saturday, he could very well play his way onto a roster this fall.

Cole Swider can shoot

There was something that felt weird about watching a forward in a Lakers jersey effortlessly bury 3-pointers but that is Swider’s game. He impressed the Lakers with his shooting stroke during his multiple draft workouts and it took one game to see why.

Because of the current state of the Lakers roster, there is actually a pathway Swider has to seeing minutes on the court, at least as we look at things in early July. It’s a very early projection but Swider can shoot from range and is a big forward, two things the Lakers don’t have right now. Seeing how well he continues to shoot will be something to note throughout Summer League.

Max Christie looks rocky

There isn’t much good that comes from sweeping judgments from one game, particularly the first game, of Summer League. Christie struggled on the day, shooting 2-11 from the field and 1-5 from the 3-point range.

He also looked like someone who is going to need to bulk up into more of an NBA body. That part wasn’t new information and, realistically, few expect Christie to contribute in year one. But you could also still see why Christie was a highly-rated prospect by the Lakers and the potential is still there.

Just as much as he shot 2-11 on Saturday, don’t be surprised if he has a 7-13 game later this summer. It’s the nature of young prospects, particularly ones that have a ways to go like Christie likely will.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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