The limited available video of the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice on Wednesday made it look like things were looking good on the court. The player’s comments afterwards made it clear their team building is going equally well off of it.
There were no reports of the team singing “Kumbaya” to end practice, but their post-scrimmage quotes were basically the basketball equivalent. It’s summer time, which means optimism is in high supply, even for teams coming off of a season as moribund and joyless as the Lakers' 2015-16 campaign often was.
Helping matters is the team's addition of second overall pick Brandon Ingram who, judging by what the team was saying about him, impressed pretty much everyone within a 50-mile radius of the Lakers' El Segundo practice facility.
“He’s a frail kid, but he’s tough,” Nance told Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com. “On screens, he’ll hit you. On rebounds, he’ll hit you. He gives you what he’s got. That immediately takes away the soft label or the tiny label. You have what you have to work with, and he uses his to the best of his abilities.”
That wasn't all Nance had to say, and he was hardly the only one impressed with the Lakers' youngest player:
The man who'll coach Ingram and the rest of the Lakers' roster in Las Vegas Summer League offered additional praise for the Duke product:
“He’s been impressive,” Mermuys said. “There’s no question about it with his feel. One thing that has jumped out is that he doesn’t play like a college player, which is a really nice surprise. A lot of the time we have to introduce them to a lot of NBA concepts.
“And that’s a tribute to the (Duke) coaching staff and the work that he’s done since leaving school. He’s obviously prepared himself really well for some NBA concepts.”
Those NBA concepts will surely be present at times during summer league, but the exhibition is also a time for experimentation and development. In that vein, the Lakers offered some changes to look for from their second-year players.
Some things to look out for in Summer League...D'Angelo Russell said he's been working on his post game. Nance been working on his threes.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) July 6, 2016
The team is also working on more basic, but essential, improvements for some of it's young players:
Luke Walton said they’re woking on limiting turnovers w/ D’Angelo, commended him for being vocal & taking responsibilities for mistakes— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) July 6, 2016
Luke Walton says they’re encouraging Julius Randle to focus on getting more rebounds & push the ball even more.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) July 6, 2016
Luke is surely channeling his inner "Kobe System" mentality here, with team huddles presumably going something like this:
Julius Randle: How many more rebounds?
Luke Walton: More rebounds.
Randle: But... How much more can I push the pace?
Walton: More pace.
Randle: But... But I'm the best...
Walton: But are you a different animal, and the same beast?
Randle: What the f*** does that mean Luke Walton?
Walton: You're welcome.
Or something like that. Maybe.
Anyway, the team is showing encouraging signs of building chemistry and enjoying playing with each other, which fans will get a better look at for the first time when the team begins play in Las Vegas this Friday, July 8th.
For coverage from Vegas, you can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.