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Las Vegas Summer League Preview: Clippers Look to Spoil Lonzo Ball’s Debut

It’s the beginning of a new era for the team across the hall.

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce NBA Draft Picks Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Tonight, the Las Vegas Summer League kicks off on the campus of UNLV. The Clippers will play their first game of the league against the Los Angeles Lakers, in what will be second overall pick Lonzo Ball’s debut in the purple and gold.

As this is each team’s first Summer League game, we don’t know much of what to expect from either side’s lineup. In addition to Lonzo Ball, the Lakers feature notable prospects such as Brandon Ingram (2nd pick in 2016), Ivica Zubac (32nd pick in 2016), Kyle Kuzma (27th pick in 2017), and Josh Hart (30th pick in 2017). David Nwaba, a fan favorite who played 20 games for the Lakers following a D-League call-up last season, is also on the roster.

One of the Lakers’ undrafted free agents, P.J. Dozier, played at South Carolina with Clippers rookie Sindarius Thornwell. Thornwell is one of the Clippers’ Summer League headliners along with fellow rookie Jawun Evans and Clipper-controlled prospects Brice Johnson (25th pick in 2016), David Michineau (39th pick in 2016), Isaiah Hicks (undrafted signee from last month), and Kyle Wiltjer (undrafted free agent signed by Houston last year and traded to the Clippers last month).

The Clippers’ summer league team will also be bolstered by notable veterans Kendall Marshall and Hollis Thompson, who both have played multiple NBA seasons as role players. Marshall notably started 45 games for the Lakers in the 2013-14 season.

In the Las Vegas Summer League, each team plays three “regular season” games before the playoffs begin. Teams that win will continue until a champion is decided, while teams that lose in the opening round of the playoffs will receive a consolation game, ensuring a minimum of five games played. The Clippers will play their other two “regular season” games on Sunday and Monday against the Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks.

Summer League is ultimately meaningless, but this game does have a little bit of meaning, especially for the Lakers. A good showing in his first Summer League game won’t make up for a bad rookie season by Lonzo, just as a bad Summer League debut won’t matter at all if he becomes a star in the NBA. But for today, just in tonight’s game, it would be pretty sweet if the Clippers could give him a rocky welcome.