One clear focus point of the development for the young core of the Los Angeles Lakers has been making sure the guys work on their bodies as much as any part of their games. It sounds like Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart are living up to those expectations.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson gave all three of those players “lookbooks” featuring the physical transformation of young players like Kobe Bryant and Giannis Antetokounmpo as they went from rookies to stars, and from the sound of Pelinka’s recent praise during his recent appearance on ESPN 710’s “An Evening With The Lakers,” it seems like the young core took those images and lessons to heart as they attacked their offseason.
Pelinka said he’s been really impressed with the strides all three young Lakers are making, but spoke perhaps most glowingly about Kuzma.
”Kyle Kuzma, when he steps on the court for opening night you’ll just see how he’s completely changed his physique. His back is stronger, his shoulders. He spent a couple sessions with Kobe working out down in Orange County on his footwork. He’s been hitting the track.”
Josh Hart was already a physical specimen, but he’s putting in work, and the fruits of that labor were apparent to Pelinka as soon as he hit the court in Vegas back in July.
“Once he (Josh Hart) got his swagger going in Vegas you could see all the hard work he was doing on the court and in the weight room taking over.”
Unfortunately, Lonzo Ball hasn’t been able to do as much work as the others because of a torn meniscus that later required surgery, but Pelinka said Ball has been doing what he can to be ready as soon as his knee is 100 percent.
”With Lonzo, of course, he hasn’t been able to play five-on-five basketball because he had to have a scope on his knee, but just the way he stayed dedicated to reshaping his body and making sure that if he’s playing against a really strong point guard like a Russell Westbrook who is going to come at him with his aggressive nature and give him a bump, Lonzo will be able to take it or even bump him back. You’ll see that in his physique.”
The Lakers are going to be leaning on the their younger players quite a bit next season. Yes, LeBron James is going to be carrying the heaviest load of anyone on the roster, but it’s not a stretch to say that the team’s ceiling is going to be reliant on the continued development of the players outlined above.
Pelinka’s scouting department has done some great work in finding gems whenever they can in the draft process, but promise alone isn’t going to cut it now that the team has expectations. It’s great to see such key pieces of the young core putting in the work necessary to live up to their potential.