The NBA Summer League is all about making a name for yourself and in the short amount of games that are played, those chances are fleeting. In a league that currently has an overabundance of elite level talent, proving yourself to the veterans and coaches has become more and more difficult. However, each player is different and each have their own special niche. Their skills can bring great value to an NBA team. If given the opportunity the process of climbing the totem pole on the depth chart begins. Lakers rookie power forward Devontae Cacok pieced together an impressive Summer League and has showcased his skill set in the hopes of landing on the Los Angeles Lakers final roster.
Keeping that in mind, it is important to look back at what Cacok did well in the Summer League and determine others factors that fit best with what Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is looking for.
Cacok’s Summer League stat-line: 5 GP, 22.8 MPG, 62.2 FG%, 9 RPG, 2 SPG
The Lakers finished sixth in the NBA in rebounding and are looking to repeat that success next season on the glass. Cacok has inhaled basketballs off the rim in the Summer League and ranked just outside the top 10 in that category, sitting at 13th with 9.0 RPG over 5 games played.
In his four years at UNC Wilmington, Cacok grew into one of the best rebounders in the nation. In 2017-2018, Cacok ended the season ranked first in the NCAA in RPG with 13.5.
Standing at only 6’7″, Cacok gives up a good amount of height, but he makes up for it with his strength. His ability to grab rebounds predicates on him getting good positioning and putting a body on a body. When he is matched up with taller bigs, he has to rely on his timing to gather the ball at its high point.
In a pinch, Cacok can be a serviceable big man who will compete and fight for minutes in practice and challenge Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and JaVale McGee on a daily basis.
Field Goal Percentage:
Getting a player to understand his role and not doing too much to hurt his game is crucial in the NBA. While it may be popular in today’s game to ask a big man to extend his range to be effective, Cacok fits the mold of players like DeAndre Jordan who have found ways to break away and carve out their own role.
A large amount of Cacok’s scoring is done at the rim. He uses his athleticism to explode towards the rim as a lob option or even taking to the rack himself. Case in point.
Given his muscular frame, Cacok has shown the ability to get good positioning on the low-block and use his quickness to spin around and finish with a soft touch. Although he is not known for his shooting from mid-range, he is capable of being a mid-range pick-and-pop option.
While he is no longer in college, it is still worth noting that he did set an NCAA record for field goal percentage of 80.0%.
In the Summer League, Cacok went a total of 28-45 from the field and never missed more than five shots in any particular game.
Having a player that doesn’t need to score to be effective can go a long way when you have the scorers and shooters that the Lakers currently have. That being said, there should be a lot of confidence in Cacok to get the ball in the bucket when the ball is in his hands.
As it sits now, with the Lakers wanting to play LeBron James at the point, their depth in terms of forwards has shrunk. Although Davis will play a large amount of minutes, he will need a back-up to hold down the fort, something Cacok can do very well.
It took Cacok a little bit to earn the starting job over Nick Perkins in Summer League play. He averaged 22.8 MPG and had better scoring outings when he came off the bench, proving he is comfortable in both situations but appears more effective as a back-up.
The Lakers can use Cacok similarly to how they brought along former Laker big man Ivica Zubac. While Zubac was bigger and played at the center, his limited role allowed him to be extremely effective when he was on the court.
If the Lakers ask him to take on a bigger role, there is no telling how Cacok would handle it. One thing that can be said is that the Lakers should not put too much pressure on the undrafted rookie.
The last and possibly the best aspect of Cacok’s game to be discussed is his defenisve ability. As stated previously his size, frame, and athleticism allows him to guard all five positions on the court.
Cacok has been known to cause disruption and make it difficult on opposing players to score. It is a small sample size but in the five Summer League match-ups, Cacok became active getting his hands on 10 total steals.
His defensive prowess should come as no surprise as he dominated on that side of the ball in his four years for the Seahawks of UNC Wilmington. In the Colonial Athletic Association, Cacok finished in the top 10 in blocks per game two of the four years. His best season in terms of blocks came in 2016-2017 where he finished first in the CAA with 1.3 BPG. His well-rounded defensive efforts paid off in his senior season when he was named to the CAA All-Defensive team.
Cacok’s pro comparrison has been linked several times to Kenneth Faried. When Faried entered the league, he baffled fans with his motor thus granting him the nickname “the manimal”. Cacok appears to be a player that may not stuff the stat sheet in defenisve statistics like blocks or steals but will create havoc, get after loose balls and contest every shot possible.
There is not too much room on the Lakers roster, but even if he doesn’t make the initial roster, Cacok (who is on an Exhibit 10 contract) could always become a two-way player that gets called up due to injury.
With all the Lakers that participated in the Summer League, given his versatility Cacok is best suited for the Lakers current roster and deserves a spot in the purple and gold.