The Portland Trailblazers will be matching up against the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals of the Las Vegas Summer League. Here are my reasons why each team might win and why each team might lose.
The Trailblazers this Summer League have flown by everyone’s expectations. The one player playing fantastic is Jake Layman with two 20+ point games. Jarnell Stokes is also having an outstanding Summer League with an amazing showing against the Grizzlies scoring 22 points and grabbing 15 boards. Against the Bulls he had 16 points and 17 rebounds. The main talking point is if RJ Hunter and Jorge Gutierrez can stop Lonzo Ball. This brings me to the point of experience. Jorge Gutierrez has played 5 seasons in the NBA, and is now at the age of 27. RJ Hunter has only played in the NBA for 2 years, but he has played on a contender in the Celtics. We know in the NBA that at times, experience can beat talent. This backcourt knows how to run plays at guard on an actual NBA court, how it doesn’t just take skill but is takes experience and knowing how to use teamwork. Lonzo Ball has never done that in the NBA and that is why the Trailblazers have a chance. After all, teamwork is the dreamwork.
Let’s be honest, the Trailblazers on paper are not as good as the Lakers. I can go through each of the 5 positions on the court. At point guard without injuries, it will most likely be Ball against Gutierrez. On paper, Ball of course wins that matchup as his passing ability has led the Lakers this far in the tournament. At shooting guard, we most likely see R.J. Hunter against Vander Blue or David Nwaba. These 2 players are at the same level of Hunter and I might actually argue that being an incredible D-League player, Vander Blue is better. At small forward it is probably a Jake Layman vs Brandon Ingram matchup. Ingram has skill and experience which easily outclasses Layman’s ability. Then you have power forward which is Kuzma vs Jarnell Stokes. As much as I have liked Stokes’s Summer League, Kyle Kuzma has still had a better Summer League. Kuzma has really led the Lakers, including a 24 point performance against the Mavericks to get to the Finals. And then you have center which is Caleb Swanigan vs Ivica Zubac. I believe that Swanigan edges this matchup but on paper just him can not win it for the Blazers. Overall, statistics and player wise the Trail Blazers lose to the Lakers in a blowout.
You have a big 3 of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, expect things to go well. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are probably going to be starting in next years Lakers team. Kuzma will probably be coming off the bench behind either Julius Randle or Larry Nance Jr. If you are any type of fan in the NBA whenever it is casual or die-hard, you look at this game thinking that the Lakers can easily win. The Blazers team doesn’t consist of a massively hyped player, there most hyped player is Layman or Hunter. Most casual fans might not even know who these players are. However, if you are a fan of the NBA, you for sure know Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. Therefore the question really is, how can the Lakers not win this game?
Here is the problem that the Lakers have. Lonzo Ball has not been good at shooting this Summer League. His awkward release led him to shooting 4-12 against the Nets, 6-20 against the Cavs, and 3-10 from 3 against the 76ers. If Lonzo Ball has another one of these nights, things might not go as planned for the Los Angeles Lakers. I mean, that wasn’t even pressure situations. It wasn’t the finals of the Summer League. So now that it is, will he drop off in his numbers. Whatever happens to him also affects his teammate Kyle Kuzma. Lonzo Ball likes to dish insane passes to Kuzma who makes an easy dunk/bucket. Keep this in mind in tonight’s game. If Ball slows down, look out for Kuzma to slow down to. If the experience of the Trailblazers contain Ball, things could really fall apart for this Lakers team.