The Los Angeles Lakers continued their 2022 training camp on Saturday, a notable practice day which featured an intra-squad scrimmage that was partially open to fans and media.
Lonnie Walker and Troy Brown, Jr., who have been limited participants in training camp due to minor injuries, did not participate in the scrimmage according to the media on site. However, Walker was a full participant in the practice session.
Anthony Davis was a full participant in practice and the closed portion of the scrimmage but did not play during the section open to media and fans. It does not appear to be an injury issue for the big man.
Dennis Schröder was also a non-participant as he continues to work through visa issues and moving his family back to Los Angeles. The Lakers are expecting the point guard to be in camp early this week.
As for Monday’s preseason opener, Ham said that they are hoping to play Davis and LeBron James but that decision will be made by the staff on Sunday.
Coach Ham gave a hint at his starting lineup for Monday’s preseason opener against the Kings on Friday and it was the same group mostly playing together on Saturday: Davis, James, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, and Damian Jones. That’s four returning players from last year – though Nunn did not appear in any games due to a lingering bone bruise – and one who has experience playing alongside James and Davis with the Lakers in Jones.
Beyond the potential starting lineup, here are a few tactical tidbits we learned about through the scrimmage:
- Damian Jones and Anthony Davis appear to be the starting frontcourt for Coach Ham. While fans might understandably cringe at the spacing of a lineup that features the two big men and Westbrook, it appears like the Lakers are empowering Jones to take some 3-pointers in certain situations to keep defenders honest. Jones said he’s “comfortable shooting” from the corners due to the number of reps he has been getting there. Ham, meanwhile, explained that there are certain situations – like semi-transition or baseline out-of-bounds sets – that will allow Jones the opportunity to get and take open looks. The head coach, somewhat jokingly, compared Jones to Robin Lopez who took a career-high 105 3-pointers in his one season with Ham in Milwaukee.Meanwhile, AD focused more on Jones’ ability as a lob threat bringing back memories of the “vertical spacing” the Lakers used to great success with JaVale McGee starting alongside Davis in the 2020 title year.
- Pace and space still appears to be the name of the game. It’s hard to expect this Lakers team to be bombing from deep given the personnel on the court but the pace aspect appears to already be there. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha observed that all of the Lakers’ ball-handlers were tasked with pushing the pace and all of them were aggressive in doing so, including the likes of Patrick Beverley and Austin Reaves who one would not necessarily expect to be that kind of player.
- That aggression seems to be a key point for a lot of Lakers players, including Davis who is adamant that the “Big Three” have discussed among themselves that they need to be just that rather than passively moving the ball around the perimeter to each other. Was that really a major issue for last year’s Lakers? I don’t believe so. But still, having that mindset early in camp is probably a positive point for a team that has a lot of work to do.
- Westbrook’s evolution and engagement, so long as he remains in the purple and gold, is arguably the biggest key to any Lakers success this season. It’s a good sign then that the guard seemed engaged off the ball during the scrimmage, notably working as a screener for other ball handlers. Of course, Westbrook has often said and done the right things needed to win but once things have become challenging, he’s reverted back to the bad habits that make him a difficult player to win with. In an 82-game season, tough stretches are inevitable which means Westbrook making poor decisions or even moping around feels inevitable. Still, fans can take solace in Coach Ham having a plan for how to use the former MVP and the player seemingly being open to it.
More Lakers scrimmaging pic.twitter.com/yKH9bLQ77F
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) October 1, 2022
And now…your Moment of Zen
Enjoy Year 20 LeBron printing posters in practice:
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 1, 2022