But after Beverley was done speaking, Darvin Ham took some time to chat with the media, with one question coming his way surrounding the idea of Beverley and Westbrook being able to start together. Ham emphasized that backcourt could work — with the caveat “if they play defense” — while also making the point that the team has plenty of talented guards, while insinuating they would all have an opportunity to compete for any roles they wanted.
The first and most heavily discussed guard Ham mentioned was Kendrick Nunn, praising the way he’s looked in the Lakers’ facility lately.
“Again, I just watched Kendrick Nunn have a great workout... and (he) has been having great workouts since last month. Austin Reaves... I mean we have a lot of options at that position... Lonnie Walker, who we just picked up from San Antonio. All Lakers fans should be excited, man. I think we’re going to have a young, fast, hungry ball club along with these savvy veterans who are also still playing at a very high level. It’s going to be fun, competing for those jobs.”
Given that Nunn’s past season saw him miss all 82 games due to a bone bruise in his knee, a member of the media immediately wanted to follow up on him and how he’s doing. Ham responded with the following:
“He’s looked great. He’s out there just doing individual workouts, going crazy in the weight room. We’ve had some individual combo workouts, but he looked great. He looked great. And it’s like, a breath of fresh air from him, as well. We’re going to have a damn good team.”
This is definitely not the first Nunn update we’ve heard this offseason. In late July, he indicated he was feeling “100%”. Only a few days after that, however, Jovan Buha of The Athletic indicated that Nunn had not participated in any 5-on-5 workouts/scrimmages, sounding alarms throughout the Lakers fanbase.
Ham’s emphasis on “individual workouts” may mean that Nunn still hasn’t participated in 5-on-5 action, but again, that may not mean much. Nunn, Reaves, and other Lakers have been seen training at the Lakers’ facilities lately through social media, with it being the norm that scrimmages don’t really take place at this time so far in advance of training camp.
But put Ham’s promising quotes aside — and given how last season went for Nunn they are very promising — the best case for Nunn being ready to go comes from the man himself. In a Tweet, Nunn addressed a rumor that his ramp-up process was going slower than anticipated.
You learn new things about yourself everyday on social media that’s why I barely be on here https://t.co/1MA8N5Ux1N— Kendrick Nunn (@nunnbetter_) September 3, 2022
If there was any sort of worry about his knee, even if it was the smallest amount of doubt, I don’t think Nunn would go out of his way to send the Tweet above after missing all of last season.
The type of training camp competition at the guard position that Ham illustrated is very interesting, mostly because he may have inadvertently revealed an issue in roster construction while praising the group. A logjam of players at that position would be exactly the type of predicament the roster had last season (amongst a laundry list of predicaments), with it being much more feasible that Nunn could start and/or receive substantial playing time if, well... Russ was gone.
But who knows, maybe Nunn is looking even better than he did when the Lakers signed him with the bulk of their mid-level exception in 2021. If that’s true, and Nunn can provide a more balanced combination of offensive and defensive talent than Westbrook, Beverley, or any of the other Lakers guards can provide, then he almost certainly will be an important part of this roster if they are to have any success.
You know, as long as he can actually play.