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Clippers vs. Lakers Summer League preview: The Clippers are going to dunk on the Lakers all over again

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After getting a major victory in free agency yesterday, the Clippers do battle with the Lakers on the basketball court today.

LA Clippers v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Information:

Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV

When: 4:30 p.m. PST

How to watch: ESPNU

Projected Starting Lineups:

LA Clippers: Rather than pretend I have any idea who the Clippers will be starting tonight, here is a reminder of who is on the Summer League roster. My best guess is Jerome Robinson, Terance Mann, and Mfiondu Kabengele will be starting, but beyond that, it could go a number of directions.

Los Angeles Lakers: Zach Norvell Jr., Dakota Mathias, Nick Perkins, Joe Young, Aric Holman

Injuries:

Lakers: Talen Horton-Tucker (OUT — stress reaction in right foot)

The Big Picture:

Let’s be honest. Nobody cares about this game. The Clippers just got Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Even though this is a smart organization that is still meticulously planning its future, much of which may depend on the players on the court today, nobody cares about this game.

Nevertheless, unless the NBA rules that Thomas & Mack Center is unfit to play in after the earthquake yesterday, the show must go on. Robert Flom set the stage nicely for what to expect from this crop of Summer League Clippers, but it really comes down to this: The Clippers have so much depth on their NBA roster that most of these players are fighting for a spot on the Agua Caliente team. Terance Mann might even have to settle for a two-way contract depending on how the team fills out the end of its bench. As a result, the main question here is how well Jerome Robinson asserts himself.

Last year at Summer League, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was magnificent, giving him an inside track to a starting job not longer after the 2018-19 season started. As a sophomore, Robinson needs to separate himself from the rookies. Robinson was somewhat pigeon-holed as a shooter last season, especially in comparison to Landry Shamet, but he has the ball-handling and creation abilities to run the show in Las Vegas. He’ll have to in order to demonstrate that he belongs in Doc Rivers’ guard rotation, which NOW INCLUDES Paul George, Shamet, Patrick Beverley, and Lou Williams, as well as potentially Rodney McGruder, and Sindarius Thornwell.

The Antagonist:

The Lakers shouldn’t have the firepower to compete with the Clippers on the basketball court. The Lakers have no first-round draft picks on their Summer Leagu roster, while the Clippers have two — including a second-year player in Robinson who has NBA reps. What the Lakers do have an edge in is a bit of familiarity. They played three games together in the California Classic this week, finishing 2-1 after a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback in their third game.

The Lakers also played yesterday in Las Vegas, and got worked by the Chicago Bulls, so fatigue could be an issue. A potential outcome is for the Lakers to start out hot while the Clippers work to find their footing, but ultimately the Clippers’ talent and fresh legs overwhelm their opposition.

Keep an eye on Norvell, who has signed a two-way with the Lakers and has impressed with his footwork and off-ball movement. Jordan Howard has gone full flamethrower from distance, and there are enough tough competitors fighting for a G League spot that the Clippers can’t take them lightly.

Whatever happens on the court, the Clippers already have their W. But with that in mind, enjoy the first taste of 2019-20 Clippers basketball!