LAS VEGAS — Preparing to face the Lakers in summer league also means preparing for the hype surrounding the team thanks to Lonzo Ball.
The No. 2 pick is expected to suit up Wednesday night against the Sixers after missing his last game because of a sore groin, according to ESPN.
Summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce sees the fanfare as a positive for his team in the first round of the tournament.
"Distracted? That’s the fun,” Pierce said after shootaround.
Lakers games traditionally are well-attended because of the proximity to Las Vegas. The draw is even greater when there is a new draft pick on the court.
“Who doesn’t want to play in a gym that’s completely packed?” Pierce said. “We played the Lakers to start the season here in summer league last year without Lonzo Ball and it was the same crowd. It’s the beauty of the Lakers fans. They’re four, four-and-a-half hours away from Las Vegas. It’s an easy drive. It’s a great organization with a lot of fan base. So they’re going to show up regardless.”
An anticipated No. 2 pick Ball vs. No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz showdown will not happen in summer league. Fultz is sidelined by an ankle sprain. Pierce will start Larry Drew II, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Furkan Korkmaz, Alex Poythress and Jonah Bolden against the Lakers.
If the Sixers win, they move on to the next round of the tournament. If they lose, they will play in the consolation round.
“I think for everyone’s playing in summer league, it’s an opportunity to play where the lights are on, it’s a 7:30 game, there’s going to be a lot of noise,” Pierce said. “So that’s energy and adrenaline and a lot of fun.”