The Los Angeles Lakers’ official “training camp” is over after a the fastest four days in franchise history. The Lakers head over to Pechanga Resort and Casino for a final tuneup early Saturday before breaking into their first preseason game hours later.
The shortened camp period has left head coach Luke Walton with no choice but to focus on a few key areas, and why he said after practice on Friday that “training camp” is still going for the team even if preseason has already arrived.
Walton laid out his expectations and strategy for Game 1 of preseason, taking the process one step at a time.
“We want to play fast. We have our defensive coverages that we're sticking to, and a lot of times in games you make adjustments here and there. We're going to stick to what we've done so far in training camp.
“Because of that it could... some things we could get hurt on, but we're not as concerned with that as we are how do we look doing what we're trying to do,” Walton said.
Repetition and focus on the details have been two of the biggest themes for Lakers training camp. Walton and the coaching staff are all more interested in seeing how the team in an actual game setting, against players other than their own teammates. The final score is secondary right now, the results that matter comes down to how the team translates everything they’ve been working on.
Another of the biggest themes? Teammates are raving about Brandon Ingram’s leadership, and Coach Luke agreed that Ingram has been more vocal as a whole. He wants to see that kind of communication from him on a higher level, though, on the court.
“We want him to talk more defensively. He's been vocal from a leader standpoint... but I still want to hear him talk more possession-by-possession as far as just calling out his coverages, and things like that” Walton said.
Walton had a few other keys he’ll be watching for from Ingram as well.
“For Brandon, how he's running those lanes. Is he putting pressure on the rim? Will probably be the two things I look for most when I'm breaking down tape on those guys,” Coach Luke said.
Lonzo Ball’s defense is another bullet point for Luke, but overall, it’s clear he just wants to see how the entire team responds to being put to the test.
“Communication, consistently,” Walton said when asked what he wants to see defensively.
“When we're watching film, we ask them to point out what mistakes were made in the possession to see if they can see it. If they're gaining knowledge on our concepts and what we're trying to get accomplished. And we're starting to see that.”
What exactly are the Lakers trying to accomplish, anyway? The players and coaching staff have all alluded to the implementation of new offensive and defensive principles across the board, and Walton touched on more specific things he wants to see in Game 1 against Minnesota.
“How well we fought over screens, how well were we in on the help side, and we just keep going from there...
“Can we get over those screens, can we tag those cutters? And if we do all those things I'll be happy with the game tomorrow night,” he said.
We’re hearing a lot of defense from every post-practice press conference in El Segundo, and that’s probably because the Lakers have implemented zero percent of their half-court offense. Luke’s laid down the groundwork for their transition and “secondary” offense, but beyond that, the team is in the wind.
In case you hadn’t heard, defense is the focus of the Lakers’ camp efforts. We’ll get to see the results of that soon enough.
*All quotes transcribed via Lakers’ official YouTube page