On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers held their first team practice in three months, which is almost an entire offseason. However, while there are some similarities between the way the Lakers are currently training to restart the season in Orlando and the way they typically get ready for the start of the season, there are a few notable differences — both good and bad — according to Anthony Davis.
“It’s kind of like a training camp but the good thing about it is that we don’t have to go over a lot of offensive and defensive things that we kind of remember from the season,” Davis said in a conference call with reporters on Sunday. “But it’s kind of like starting from training camp just for our bodies. Getting our bodies back to playing through contact, getting up and down the floor and getting in basketball shape, which is a different kind of shape.
“It’s like a little training camp, but you want to be smart because you don’t have a long season here, where, as far as training camp at the start of a regular NBA season, you go through games and use the early part of the season to get in shape. With this training camp here, you have to step on the gas a little bit more.”
Players also usually have the summer to get their bodies prepared for the season. Up until June, practice facilities and gyms were closed nationwide due to the ongoing (and growing) coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Despite this, Frank Vogel said there wasn’t anyone on the team that looked like they were behind the curve physically during the team’s first practice in Orlando, which included defensive slides to get the players’ lateral muscles working, 94-foot sprints and live contact in “short doses.”
“The takeaways were that guys, overall, are in pretty good shape,” Vogel said. “I’m not displeased with anyone in that regard, that worked yesterday. We have a lot time to get guys ready.”
“A lot of time” is probably an overstatement on Vogel’s part.
The Lakers have nine days until their first scrimmage with the Dallas Mavericks and 17 days until their reopening night matchup with the LA Clippers, the latter of whom they’re 2-1 against this season. Vogel doesn’t anticipate that he and his coaching staff will start to prepare for that specific game until after the Lakers’ last scrimmage on July 27, but he’s hopeful that the work they do leading up to it will put the team in a position to succeed.
“I think 90% of game prep is building your habits to handle any opponent, anything you may face,” Vogel said. “So, every practice from now until then will be preparing those tools to handle what we’re going to face.”
For most of the Lakers, it will be refresher on everything they learned earlier in the season. For Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith, though, it will be a lot to learn in a short amount of time, and that would be true even if they had played more than a combined 42 minutes — including zero for the Lakers — before the season was suspended, which, to be clear, they haven’t.
Luckily, the Lakers have shown just how quickly they can build their team chemistry before, and they want to use the next few weeks to rebuild it again, with the new faces on the team.
“I think it’s just getting our chemistry again,” Davis said. “We had a couple of months off and we’re on a great road, getting Dion and J.R. adjusted to our team and to our team, and building that chemistry now that we don’t have guys here.”
The Lakers will practice again on Monday.