The NBA Draft is in the rearview mirror now, and even though Syracuse didn’t have any players selected, two in particular have shots of making NBA rosters despite being undrafted.
Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider both signed two way contracts. Boeheim with the Detroit Pistons and Swider with the Los Angeles Lakers. Today, I’m going to look at Swider, and come back to Boeheim next week.
For Swider, there’s no doubt that he positioned himself as best he could for a roster spot, averaging 13.9 points and 4.0 rebounds on the Lakers’ Summer League team, which just wrapped up play in Las Vegas. He also shot 52.1 percent from the field and 52.8 percent 3-point range.
In his final game, he led the Lakers with a team-high 16 points on 4-6 shooting from downtown in a 95-84 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
That should give the Lakers plenty to think about as they construct their roster heading into the season.
Another thing Swider has going for him is Los Angeles’ history of finding young players, and getting the most of out of two-way contracts.
In the 2021-22 season, the Lakers received contributions from 21-year old Talen Horton-Tucker and 23-year old (now 24-year old) Austin Reaves and 24-year old Malik Monk.
Reaves was initially signed to a two-way contract with the Lakers to start the 2021-22 season, but ended up getting upgraded to a standard NBA contract. Reaves went on to play 61 games for the Lakers, starting 19 of them.
That could be the blueprint for Swider in his rookie season.
Still, Swider does face some headwinds finding his way on the Lakers roster.
While he shot the ball well, he didn’t impress with other facets of his game, particularly his interior defense and rebounding.
We also know the Lakers are in championship-or-bust mode, as long as LeBron James is still on the roster. With a new head coach in Darvin Ham, the team is going to want to put all their eggs in the basket of getting off to a good start and making a playoff push next season.
Now, last year’s Lakers team turned out to be a disaster. But, it is worth noting that it was the oldest team in the league, with the average age coming in right at 30 years old.
The mandate to make the playoffs and the resulting push to play veterans doesn’t bode well for Swider.
The best situation for Swider to appear in NBA season early on would be for injuries and/or trades to go down in Los Angeles, with either one indicating that the season did not go the way the Lakers planned.