El Segundo – His baritone might take over a room, but after Thursday afternoon practice, LeBron James’ voice was reduced to a hoarse whisper.
“Obviously, you can tell I’ve been screaming for the past few days, just trying to implement everything,” he said. “My voice is getting worse as the minutes go by, but that’s a good thing.”
It makes an impact for James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers’ coaching staff by teaching 11 newcomers to the roster. While coach Frank Vogel has lauded the competitiveness in his training camp – behind-closed-doors team scrimmage has been a battlefield – there are no shortcuts to implementing the defensive system that made his previous two teams one of the best defenses. Have given. NBA.
With Perimeter veterans Kentavius Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso gone, the Lakers have a lot of vocabulary, coverage and communication to establish. Leaders like James and Davis — as well as title team returners Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard — help, Vogel said, but even if the roster is older, it still takes some time to learn these things.
“I think it’s less about experience (in the NBA), and more about experience in our system,” he said. “It’s part of the learning curve and they’re getting over it very quickly.”
The Lakers on Thursday saw a big starting lineup look during the scrimmage: DeAndre Jordan played rep in the center next to Anthony Davis at the power forward, while former Miami guard Kendrick Nunn spent minutes at the as-yet-unclaimed guard spot next to Russell. played a part. Westbrook. Trevor Ariza, who is a contender to start in the smaller lineup while playing at Davis’ centre, sat down with an ankle pain on Thursday (Vogel didn’t consider it serious).
There’s no fixed timeline for Vogel and his staff to determine the other two starters, though he said he’d like to figure it out through the first four preseason games (there are six in total). The starting frontcourt will determine how much center the Lakers want Davis to play – Vogel said on Media Day that Davis would play more minutes at center than last year, but perhaps similar to his workload during the 2019-20 season when he was still They were written by JaVale McGee and Howard.
The starting shooting guard is tricky: sharpshooter Wayne Ellington, frisky defender Kent Bezmore and microwave scorer Nun seem to be in the mix, though Nun may wind up as a second unit player. Vogel said the starter won’t determine who is the best shooter or who is the best defender, but likely who can make the most of each attribute: “It’s going to be a tough call.”
Whoever makes the starting lineup will have gone wrong through training camp fire at a much faster pace than last season. Less than two months after winning the 2020 title, the Lakers broke camp last December with a slow start approach, which James called “stale” by comparison: “Energy alone, just, you know. Well, after coming out of the bubble last year, it literally took everything away from you.”
The Lakers expect to play fast this season, and James said transition basketball has been an early focus as they set up the offense. Westbrook — one of the fastest end-to-end players in the NBA for the past decade — has surprisingly led in that department. It falls on James, naturally, to be a dominating vocal leader.
Learning curve aside, Vogel said, the most encouraging aspect of the camp has been the intensity of the scrimmage. This is why James is so cranky in just two days.
“It was really the competitive nature of every possession,” he said. “Just talking about the referees, and talking, ‘Dude, we gotta pass that.’ Frustration over not scoring and disappointment at not getting stops. The care factor was super high to win every possession during the entire practice.”