The 2022-23 season officially kicked off at the UCLA Health Training Center as the Lakers held their first practice of training camp. A new coaching staff — which was formally announced during the practice — led by Darvin Ham led a largely new roster of players through their first on-court work together.
Here’s a look at the news and notes from that opening practice.
Russ practices with the starters
If anyone left Monday’s media day under the impression Russell Westbrook’s starting spot was not guaranteed, Ham wiped those away by revealing on Tuesday that Westbrook practiced with the starters.
Asked Darvin Ham if he envisioned Russell Westbrook being a starter if things go as he expects - “Absolutely.” Ham said Westbrook was “front and center” today.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) September 27, 2022
Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James were the starters revealed by Ham, but the rest of the lineup remained a secret. Or at least if you assume the Showtime Lakers weren’t in attendance for practice on Tuesday.
Darvin Ham coy on who played alongside LeBron, AD and Russ in first practice, jokingly brought up some of the Showtime Lakers. pic.twitter.com/ey1fI0C4I3— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) September 27, 2022
With nearly a week of practice between Tuesday and the first preseason game, expect this to be a recurring topic of conversation over the coming days.
A new-look Lakers court
Coming into this season, Ham is looking to implement a 4-out, 1-in style for the Lakers offensively. It’s a change from Frank Vogel, who often deferred to a two-big system. To help illustrate how he wants to play, Ham put tape on the court on various areas. It’s an idea that was popularized by Ham’s former boss Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee to help the Bucks with their floor balance.
Ham had the blue squares and rectangles (above the break 3, corner 3, baseline under the hoop) put onto the court, a tactic other coaches in the NBA (like Mike Budenholzer) have used. In transition, those are target spots to sprint to, keeping defense from building a wall. pic.twitter.com/TkE2FWIGPO— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 27, 2022
A mixture of poor shooting and bad lineup construction led to the Lakers having some truly awful spacing with lineups last season, both in the half court and in transition. Seeing a coach emphasize spacing in this manner is certainly a very welcome change for the Lakers.
Despite it being the first day of the season, the Lakers do have an injury report. The good news is Kendrick Nunn is not on that list as he was a full participant in practice on the day.
Kendrick Nunn reiterated his comments on media day that he’s feeling fully healthy. “It’s been a long time coming, and I feel real good now. I feel a lot stronger. I got my quickness back.”— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 27, 2022
On the flip side, neither Troy Brown Jr. nor Lonnie Walker IV participated in practice. The former is day-to-day with back issues while the latter is still dealing with a sprained ankle but is nearing a return.
Injury update:— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 27, 2022
Troy Brown Jr. is still dealing with his back issue and is day-to-day, while Lonnie Walker IV is progressing and close to returning to practice (he was on the floor shooting 3’s after practice).
Kendrick Nunn was a full participant. pic.twitter.com/D14EXsgKT6
The rest of the Lakers were full participants in practice, hopefully a sign of better things to come after a season of veterans hobbling around during and after practice.