In his first offseason as Lakers President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson has not been subtle about wanting to see growth in the Lakers young players. On multiple occasions, he has mentioned that they are evaluating everyone on the roster and now is the time to start showing more improvement.
In an interview with Marcellus and Kelvin on ESPN Radio, Magic went into more detail about how he would like each piece of the young core to grow this offseason.
On D’Angelo Russell:
“D’Angelo, I just want him to make better decisions and also be a better leader, or come into the leadership role, because we know he can score the basketball. Now you have to be a better defender, you have to be a guy who can lead his teammates and do a better job of that. We want him to also, just like all the other players, we want all of them to come back in great shape, world-class physical condition. They’ve all been working out really hard over the summer for next season.”
On Brandon Ingram:
“Brandon Ingram, we want him to get a little stronger. It’s not about being bigger, it’s just being stronger, so I want him to lift weights more to be strong than to be big. I was a skinny guy myself, but at the same time I got stronger so I could take the contact when I was driving to the basket… Right now when he takes the hit, he’s going out of bounds, or he’s going to floor and he’s not getting a lot of And-1s, so we want this year for him to finish at the rim and get those And-1s.”
On Julius Randle:
“Julius, we want him to go work on his right hand because he’s dominant left-handed. So you go work on your right hand, because he’s cat quick and he’s very athletic. So if he can get it where he can come back to his right and finish at that basket, or just a little baby hook, or finger roll, whatever that is then Julius has a chance to be a really, really good player in our league and we feel the same thing for D’Angelo. We feel like those two guys have the talent to be an All-Star one day, but they’ve just got to improve. Every season they have to improve.”
On Larry Nance, Jr and Jordan Clarkson:
“Jordan Clarkson, his ballhandling. Just work on his ballhandling skills so he can get away from guys, because he can score, but we want him to look to do some other things. We think Jordan can be a great defender.”
“Larry Nance, Jr. Hit the jump shot. It’s all about his jumper, because we already know he can jump out the gym, but he’s got to knock down that 12-15 footer.”
As we have already seen, all of these guys have been working out with the coaches recently to start working on these areas. The organization seems to want D’Angelo Russell to take on the role as the alpha in the locker room and on the floor for the young guys and he has that personality to take advantage of this opportunity.
Towards the end of last season, we saw a glimpse of what the future may hold for the Lakers with many of the young guys playing big minutes and learning how to win games together. It is up to them to continue putting in hours to become better each year, but the front office is firmly behind them.