Lakers rookie reveals LeBron James, Anthony Davis influence in first season [Exclusive]

Back on Feb. 9, Cole Swider started a game for the South Bay Lakers as he’s done so many times this season. It was an early morning weekday game, not uncommon for the G League. What he probably didn’t expect, however, was getting rushed onto a plane and flying halfway across the country to Milwaukee for the Los Angeles Lakers game against the Bucks that same day. Such is the life for an NBA player on a two-way contract. Getting used to the rigors of the NBA season is tough enough let alone having to juggle the constant shuffling back and forth. Thankfully for Swider, he’s had two solid mentors in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“Their preparation, their attention to detail on the defensive end, what they see offensively, all the cliche stuff you pick up from those guys,” Swider told ClutchPoints. “But it’s really the preparation and how much they put into it, the film study and all of that.”

All glory to god! Whenever your number is called be ready. #TFAHW

— Cole Swider (@coleswider21) February 10, 2023

After going undrafted in the 2022 draft, Cole Swider signed a two-way contract with the Lakers ahead of summer league. With a two-way contract, Swider was limited to only 50 games with the Lakers while splitting the rest of the time with their G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. He suffered a foot injury late in the preseason and was sidelined for a while but the Lakers obviously saw enough of him to keep him around during his rehab rather than cut him and sign someone who could play right away.

He ultimately returned to the court and has looked like another good scouting find by the Lakers during his time in South Bay. Going back to Feb. 9, Swider was called into action as the Lakers were incredibly short-handed. LeBron James was ruled out on the injury report against the Bucks and after a whirlwind trade deadline the team was left with only nine available players. Swider wasn’t just called in for mop-up duty, he found himself matched up one-on-one with Giannis Antetokoumpo, one of the NBA’s biggest superstars, in a surprisingly close game in the fourth quarter from the Anthony Davis-led Lakers.

Ordinally though, Swider would not see much playing time for the Lakers and that’s why he’s been grateful for the opportunity to get live game reps in the G League.

“It’s been good, it’s a really good way for me to learn the NBA game,” Swider said. “Down here you get to play a lot, you get to earn some reps, and up there I get to learn from obviously playing next to them but at the same time I also learn just as much from sitting on the bench. I learn from LeBron and AD and Russ when he was here and all those guys. It’s been a great experience and it’s been good for my development as well.”

Swider got off to a little bit of a slow pace to the G League season after returning from his earlier foot injury. In four games with South Bay during the ‘Showcase Cup’ portion of the season, Swider averaged 8.0 points per game and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the three-point line. He upped those averages once the main portion of the regular season got under way to the tune of 17.1 points and 4.8 rebounds with shooting splits of 50.6 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from three-point range over 27 games.

Cole Swider was confidently knocking down 3s with a hand in his face during summer league. He’s going to be in the NBA for a long time.

— Laker Central (@LakerCentral365) July 26, 2022

Swider had always been a good three-point shooter in college with a career-mark of 38.1 percent over three years at Villanova and one year at Syracuse. It’s not surprising that his shooting has been able to translate to the professional level. What has stood out though during this season is Swider’s improved ability to handle the ball and make plays off the dribble. As the G League season went on, Swider looked more comfortable shooting off the dribble and reading the defense and making the right pass.

Lakers’ Two-Way Cole Swider had 23 points (7-13 FG, 4-4 FT), 5 rebounds, and 4 assists last night in South Bay’s victory over Santa Cruz in the NBA G League. @coleswider21

— BDA Sports INTL (@BDASportsINTL) January 30, 2023

Being able to add other dimensions to his game instead of just being labeled as a shooter is something Swider has strived to do this season while playing with South Bay.

“I think playing in the G League has helped a lot. Obviously the game is a lot different from college so I’ve been trying to expand my game and trying to get a little bit better at things,” Swider said. “I know when I’m up top with the Lakers, it’s going to be a lot of catch and shoot and a lot of movement off the ball. It’s one dribble, two dribbles at most. Down here I get to work on my game and I get to explore a little bit.”

Before Cole Swider got to the NBA, he had a couple of solid mentors in former Villanova head coach Jay Wright and former Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. Both coaches have placed multiple players in the NBA and Swider is just one of the latest. He began his college career at Villanova and played there for three seasons with averages of 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds with shooting splits of 42.4 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range.

He transferred to Syracuse for his senior year and had his best college season to the tune of 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from distance. He was one of the best shooters in the draft and he credits both coaches with helping prepare him for the NBA level, Boeheim in particular with being mentally prepared.

“Coach Boeheim is all about mindset. I learned a lot from Coach Wright at Villanova and from Coach Boeheim. He taught me a lot about mindset and about being a killer and not putting too much stock into each individual day and performance,” Swider said. “It’s a long season and you keep going. He meant the world to me, he gave me a second chance and he allowed me to be here today.”

Cole Swider’s skill-set fits the mold of a modern NBA player. With an emphasis on three-point shooting with size, he fits that description. At 6 feet 9 inches and 220 pounds, Swider has the ability to play multiple positions. His defense has improved while playing for South Bay and he can space the floor as a stretch power forward. Anthony Davis is not a bad blueprint to follow in that regard.

With the LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers now in playoff action, Swider will have to do all his learning from the bench. Two-way contract players are not eligible for the playoffs. That’s not that bad when he has LeBron James and Anthony Davis to observe. His deal carries him through the 2023-24 season though so it’s a likely his summer league showing will have bearing on what the Lakers plans for him next season entails. For now though, Swider is simply trying to soak up as much as he can.

“I just want to get my feet wet and get as much experience as I can,” Swider said. “Learn as much as I can and just propel that into year two.”

The post Lakers rookie reveals LeBron James, Anthony Davis influence in first season [Exclusive] appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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