Los Angeles Lakers' Colin Castleton shoots against the Charlotte Hornets during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Sunday, July 9, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Castleton and Fudge Making Strides in NBA Summer League

The odds of becoming an NBA player are slim for many. Let alone the chance to join a team is rare for anyone hoping to keep their pro basketball dreams alive.For former Florida forwards Colin Castleton and Alex Fudge, they’re currently playing for a chance at this in the gambling capital of the U.S. in the 2023 NBA Summer League.

The frontcourt duo signed as undrafted free agents seconds after the 2023 NBA Draft June 23 with the Los Angeles Lakers. Castleton signed a two-way contract, while Fudge signed an Exhibit-10 deal with a chance to covert the contract to a two-way deal before the start of the regular season. Since then the two teammates have shown out this summer.

Starting Off in The Golden State

Starting in the California Classic at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, Castleton struggled defensively to adjust to the fast pace of the NBA. His offensive presence, however, was undeniable through two games in California against the Miami Heat July 3 and the San Antonio Spurs July 5. Castleton finished both games scoring double-digits and averaging above 60% in shots from the floor despite them being losses.

Fudge, who only played against San Antonio, came off the bench and struggled to perform well through 10 and a half minutes. The 6-foot-9-inch big scored five points, committed two fouls and two turnovers. Fudge would get more chances in Vegas. However, he showed signs of elite athleticism and awareness on the court.

The Lakers’ first game in the Thomas and Mack Center for the Summer League was against the Golden State Warriors July 7. Castleton started the game at center and played nearly 28 minutes in total in under the basket on both sides of the floor.

The 6-foot-10-inch forward played up against opponents on defense and was not afraid to foul in pursuit to keep guys away from the painted area. He caused seven personal fouls. Castleton on offense trailed behind Lakers guard Max Christie in the pick-and-roll scheme throughout the game. It allowed him to get multiple chances to score inside and collect offensive rebounds for second chance points.

Fudge came off the bench once again, but with more playing time then he had experienced in Sacramento. He played tight on defense, but loose on offense as a designated player to take advantage to pick-and-pop’s. This gave him a shot from three-point range that he drilled in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers went on to defeat the Warriors 103-96 for their first win in Vegas. Castleton finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Fudge scored seven points and shot 50% from the floor.

Castleton Takes Over

The following game against the Charlotte Hornets Sunday wasn’t a Fudge-dominant game, but for Castleton, it was a dominating performance for Los Angeles.

The Lakers defeated the Hornets 93-75 off of the shoulders of Castleton’s game inside the paint. The game appeared to slow down for him as he made moves inside corralling rebounds, slamming in lob passes and creating space off the block with post moves.

Castleton led the team with 21 points and 14 rebounds. He shot 61.5% from inside the arc. The Deland, Florida, native never took a single jumper behind the arc.

Along with Castleton, Fudge contributed a lot defensively to the win for L.A. He blocked two shots and stole the ball late in the third quarter to get the Lakers started toward a strong defensive effort to end the game. Charlotte scored only 16 points in the final quarter compared to Los Angeles’ 28. Fudge finished with four points and and two rebounds.

The duo’s next game in Vegas with the Lakers is against the Boston Celtics at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

 

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