All of a sudden, we’re only two weeks away from the start of Lakers training camp. It pops up after what are two seemingly quiet NBA months — months in which the players are readying their bodies for the grind.
With that in mind, we talked to Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco to discuss what some of the players have been up to.
Below is a transcription of the conversation:
MT: Most NBA veterans have their own workout programs throughout the offseason, and therefore don’t go to the team facility much during the offseason. But I know several of the young guys in particular have been in to see you often. Who’s on the list?
DiFrancesco: It’s important to recognize that the guys that are in the most are the guys that happen to live in Los Angeles in the offseason, because everybody on the roster is doing their work somewhere. Compared to other offseasons, however, we’ve had a long list of regular customers: Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, Anthony Brown, Larry Nance, Jr., D’Angelo Russell and Roy Hibbert.
MT: Hibbert told me during his introductory press conference in this building that he’d dropped 16 pounds already, and that was two months ago. How does that typically impact a big man like him?
TD: Roy has had a very productive offseason, including losing body fat and gaining muscle. He accomplished a good chunk of this before we signed him, but since signing he has been one of the most frequent weight-room visitors and we have seen an appropriate bump in lean mass. It is always great to lose weight, but not when you lose muscle, too. Losing the excess body fat was important because that only makes it harder to keep up with the pace of the game. A big like him has some monster bodies to bang with, so this increase in lean mass will be very helpful in that sense.
MT: How has the 19-year-old rookie, D’Angelo Russell, been developing? What have you been focusing on in getting him stronger and adjusting his body to the NBA level?
TD: We have worked on developing his lower-body balance, strength and power. He needs a strong base at his hips and core to stand up to the pace, athleticism and power that he will see from his opponents.
MT: Julius Randle looked really good, physically, in Las Vegas. His weight appears to be down, and he had his teammates calling him any number of things amounting to, basically, being a “beast.” Where does he stand right now?
TD: Julius continues to tolerate appropriate progressions in workload volume/intensity without issue. He is full speed ahead from my end, but I can’t speak to minute restrictions/practice restriction – that’s up to (head athletic trainer) Gary Vitti (and Lakers management).
MT: How has Jordan Clarkson's summer gone with you? I know you wanted to keep adding some muscle mass, building upon the 10 pounds he added as a rookie…
TD: Jordan has been able to add a few more pounds of muscle, and I have had a number of our coaches/other players tell me how he seems stronger than ever before while on the court. He's a true gym rat, so this does not surprise me. He has been working the sand hills pretty hard, too, so don't be surprised to see his already impressive speed/endurance improved as well!
MT: What's been the biggest area of focus for you this summer?
TD: Each summer I work to evolve how we use training analytics and technology to influence the performance ecosystem of our players. I have really enjoyed working with our analytics staff on this ongoing initiative. It is a very exciting time to be a part of this due to how rapidly training analytics and technology is merging with sports performance.
MT: What happens between now and the start of camp?
TD: All players will be in on a daily basis to put the finishing touches on their individual offseason programs. Each player has different goals and customized programs, but the intensity now ratchets up in preparation to hit the ground running for the start of camp. It's really refreshing to be around so many young players who have shown a desire to learn, get better and be a part of something special.