Which Lakers prospects are showing potential to help LeBron?

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For the first time in several years, the NBA Summer League seems unlikely to be the highlight of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season.

The past two summers, Lakers fans have flocked to Las Vegas, where the success of teams led by No. 2 overall picks Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball has contrasted with the Lakers’ futility during the regular season. Last July, Ball and fellow first-round pick Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers to the NBA Summer League championship, the only title one of the league’s most storied franchises has won in recent memory.

While expectations shouldn’t be quite that high, the arrival of LeBron James via free agency has made the Lakers’ regular-season roster far more compelling. And since the Lakers finally sent their own lottery pick to the Philadelphia 76ers to complete the distant sign-and-trade for Steve Nash, No. 25 pick Moritz Wagner is the highest-profile rookie on this summer’s roster. Yet L.A. has still started 3-0, extending the team’s winning streak in Las Vegas to nine consecutive games.

Now the question is not so much whether the Lakers can find their next superstar in summer league, but instead the kind of role players they’ll need to surround James — and perhaps another All-Star added sometime over the next year.6

That list starts with Josh Hart, the least-heralded of the Lakers’ three first-round picks in 2017 but a solid contributor as a rookie nonetheless. Hart told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk beforehand he wanted to “dominate” this summer. That’s exactly what Hart did during Tuesday’s 109-92 win over the New York Knicks.

Hart’s most obvious contribution was a team-high 27 points. He started out hot, putting up 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter, and was able to compensate for atypically poor 3-point shooting (4-of-12 beyond the arc) by getting to the free throw line 10 times and making seven of those attempts. Improved ballhandling has helped Hart show the ability to do more than play the 3-and-D role he did as a rookie.nfl nike

Make no mistake, Hart still excels at the defensive part of that role. After Knicks rookie Kevin Knox heated up in the third quarter, making all four of his 3-point attempts and scored 16 of his game-high 29 points to tie the score, Hart asked back in the game to cool him off. Knox had only two points on 1-of-6 shooting in the fourth quarter as the Lakers pulled away.

Second-round pick Svi Mykhailiuk was also key to that surge, following Hart’s 3 with two of his own back-to-back as part of a 16-0 Lakers run. On a team that’s light on outside shooting, Mykhailiuk could carve out a role if he can maintain or improve upon his 37 percent 3-point shooting this summer.