In the highly anticipated summer league debut of the top two selections in the 2015 NBA draft, it was last year’s 46th pick who shined the brightest.
Second-year guard Jordan Clarkson had 23 points to the lead the Lakers, though his scoring output wasn’t enough to overcome a balanced attack from Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who won, 81-68.
It was a full house at Thomas and Mack Center for Friday night’s marquee matchup, which featured Lakers youngsters in rookie guard D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick, power forward Julius Randle, the Lakers’ top pick last year, and Clarkson.
Russell had an up-and-down outing, finishing with eight points, six assists, five turnovers and seven fouls (each player is allotted 10 fouls in the summer league). He showed flashes of what made him the second overall selection, including a pull-up three-pointer from the top of the key early in the first quarter and a perfect assist to Clarkson for an easy transition layup. Russell attempted eight shots for the game.
Clarkson displayed an array of impressive moves, and was aggressive getting to the basket. At one point midway through the third quarter, he threw down a fastbreak dunk, and followed that up on the next Los Angeles possession with an and-one layup after splitting a double team.
Randle, playing against an NBA opponent for the first time since breaking his leg in last season’s opener, logged slightly more than 20 minutes, accumulating 11 points on three-of-nine shooting from the field. He was aggressive getting into the paint and forcing fouls, making five of eight free throws, but he only got one rebound.
There was also undrafted rookie Robert Upshaw, who was once considered a possible lottery pick before being dismissed from two college teams. Upshaw attempted one shot and had six fouls in 12 minutes of action, but he did play solid defense against Minnesota’s big men, forcing Towns into a couple of contested shots that he couldn’t convert.
Towns finished with 12 points, four assists and nine fouls. The Timberwolves got a game-high 24 points from LaVine.