Things are finally getting back underway for the Los Angeles Lakers as the team is going through individual workouts in preparation for the restart of the season July 30 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The NBA has been shut down for nearly four months, which has created the challenge of players quickly working back into shape. At the time of the season being suspended, the Lakers were playing their best basketball.
Now it will be on head coach Frank Vogel, and the training and coaching staffs to get the team back on the same page. To get back to that level of play is a major challenge and Vogel understands that, especially when it comes to one particular factor.
“The conditioning aspect is going to be a great concern,” Vogel said during his recent conference call. “I know I just talked about A.D. and LeBron, but beyond that I don’t really want to get into how anybody individually looks. We’ll talk about that more when we get them into a group setting and in particular with conditioning.
“As hard as we can work them right now, it’s not going to be the same as full-contact practice. That’s a big concern of mine and amongst coaches around the league.”
The players have undoubtedly done everything they can to stay in as good shape as possible, but that isn’t necessarily the same as peak basketball conditioning. Pushing too quickly to get back to that level could result in injuries and Vogel is aware of that, but also believes in his players.
“It’s a concern but I feel like our guys have great player leadership and self-motivated guys, so I have confidence they maximized what they were able to do with the restrictions,” he said. “Hopefully when we get to playing we’ll build them up at the right pace and be ready to go.”
In addition to just overall conditioning, there are also those things that are specific to basketball that players haven’t been able to fine tune for months.
“Everything that goes into playing basketball: the sprinting mentality, the reactionary part of both ends of the ball, being in the right spots, moving your feet defensively. Being able to react on defense is something no one has done league-wide for four months,” Vogel added.
“There’s muscles involved, instincts involved. All those types of things have been dormant so to speak. They’ve got to hopefully be brought in a relatively quick fashion and at the right pace. We’re very concerned about going too fast once we get going but we’ve got to do enough to make sure we’re ready to compete in games.”
It is a very thin line that Vogel and the Lakers coaching staff must walk in this comeback. Pushing too hard could result in injuries, but not pushing enough could lead to the team being at a less-than-ideal spot to achieve their ultimate goal. With the entire staff all on one accord and having a plan in place, they intend to have this team right where they need to be.
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