Who has stood out for the Los Angeles Lakers in training camp? Well, it depends on who you ask.
Aside from LeBron James and Anthony Davis. who (as expected) have impressed everyone, there have been a few other standouts. The compliments for Avery Bradley have become so universal that they’re almost a soundtrack to every player and coach’s media availability at this point. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has earned a bit of praise, and Rajon Rondo has gotten some love from key Lakers figures for the things he brings to the table.
According to Danny Green, there are also a few other players who have made their presence felt.
“JaVale (McGee)’s energy is amazing, Quinn (Cook) is a guy everybody has slept on but is really good and (Rondo) is still very much the same guy he was in his younger days,” Green said at practice last week. “AB (Avery Bradley) is a hound on the ball defensively, on and off the ball. He’s tough to get by, tough to get around.”
Now, on one hand, that’s just a teammate saying nice things about their teammates, hardly a breaking news item in training camp. Still, what has felt noteworthy that where usually a few guys soak up most of the praise, this Lakers team has seemingly featured almost every guy getting their shine.
McGee and Bradley were rewarded for their camp performances with starting spots in the Lakers’ first preseason game against the Golden State Warriors, with both validating the praise they received, with McGee showing he’s going to be a lob-catching menace on the glass this year, while Bradley was a pest defensively.
Rondo fared less well, finishing with 8 points on 8 shots to go with 4 assists and 2 turnovers, while Cook missed the game against his former team with a “sore left calf.” In his stead, Troy Daniels picked up the slack and made his case for a role in the rotation with 14 points on 6-11 shooting. And maybe we should have seen his strong night coming, as Jared Dudley said at the Lakers’ second-to-last practice before leaving for the Bay Area that Daniels has been a camp standout.
“Troy Daniels’ shooting has been phenomenal,” Dudley told Silver Screen and Roll. “Every time he’s open he’s knocked everything down.”
♂️ ♂️ ♂️ https://t.co/HNL9m3fGP7— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) October 6, 2019
Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel has gone beyond that, as he’s been basically impressed with everyone, from Alex Caruso (he’s “looked really good”), to Green (“he’s putting guys in spots and using his leadership and experience to help us get acclimated and together as quickly as possible”). Really, the whole roster has impressed him.
“I’m happy with everyone on our team. I had a good comfort level with the entire roster coming in, and nobody’s disappointed. Guys have really performed at a high level,” Vogel said. “Our centers have really impressed me, both Dwight and JaVale.”
And while it’s possible that all this is just your typical training camp bluster — everyone’s lost 25 pounds, or gained 25 pounds of muscle this time of year, and sometimes seemingly both at once, somehow — there is also a different way to read it. Maybe the strength of this team is mostly in their top two pieces, but also in how many solid veterans they have beneath them. They may not be guys that put butts in seats on their own, but nearly everyone on this roster is capable of impressing on any given night under the right circumstances.
“I think that’s the strength of our team. We have a lot of guys, our team is very deep,” Bradley said. “I think it just depends on which lineup coach wants to put out there, and us all buying into our role.”
Getting that buy-in may be tougher when the regular season arrives and the rotation is tightened up, but that’s a problem for another day. For now, all indications are that the Lakers have a bunch of guys who can contribute when called upon, which will be a good thing for the team once injuries start to hit, or when their stars need to be load managed.
Or maybe this is all just the standard, aforementioned and annual training camp smoke-blowing. Only time will tell.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.