Lakers Emphasize Competition and Fun At Camp
SANTA BARBARA — According to teammates, Brandon Ingram has looked good on the court so far at training camp, making three straight baskets during one-on-one competition on Friday. But he and his fellow first-years certainly didn’t sound great at the Lakers’ rookie talent show the night before.
Veterans Lou Williams, Metta World Peace, Nick Young and Luol Deng each chose a song for Ingram, Ivica Zubac, Zach Auguste and Julian Jacobs to sing in front of select members of the Santa Barbara community.
D’Angelo Russell even found a dog costume (that somehow fit a 6-foot-9 basketball player) for Ingram, who has been nicknamed “Tiny Dog” by teammates, according to Jordan Clarkson.
Auguste showed the most enthusiasm, per head coach Luke Walton, but none are likely to pursue a musical career any time soon.
“I respected the effort but was not impressed with the talent,” Walton said.
Back on the court Friday, Walton continued to push his players to compete with one another, ending practice at UC Santa Barbara with one-on-one, 3-point shooting and “home run pass” contests.
“That’s just something different that Coach brings,” Russell said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting that. It feels like you’re going back to your roots — back to the high school days and stuff like that where you’re just competing and still laughing about it, too, at the same time.”
Walton said that the practice was mostly focused on defense, particularly in transition and off the ball.
It was certainly a competitive practice, at least for Julius Randle, who ended the day with a bloody mouth, though Walton said he wasn’t concerned about it becoming an issue for the power forward.
Battle wounds pic.twitter.com/ocZG9gS8fi— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 30, 2016
Meanwhile, Randle’s fellow big, Yi Jianlian, was the one who stood out in Walton’s mind.
“He’s been shooting the heck out of the ball, which is obviously something we could use: a big man that can step behind the 3-point line and help space the floor,” Walton said. “I’m a big believer in playing an open-space style of game and he’s probably our best 3-point shooter out of the bigs.”
Clarkson left impressed by Yi as well, placing the Chinese big alongside Thomas Robinson and Marcelo Huertas as the players who have surprised most at camp.
“Yi really stretched the floor at last night’s scrimmage,” Clarkson said. “He’s pretty athletic as well, gets after it on the defensive end.”
Another player standing out on the defensive end has been Jacobs, who Walton says wants to pick up full court on every possession. Walton claims he has “never seen a rookie get after it more than him.”
As for his own rookie days, Walton says that the veterans on the 2003-04 Lakers were sure to give him experiences much like the talent show.
“I’m seeing a shrink about it,” Walton said. “I’ve blocked that out of my life.”
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