After six days of training camp in Santa Barbara, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to their practice facility in El Segundo for their final training session before their first preseason game. Luke Walton said in terms of offensive execution and understanding, Monday’s practice was by far the best in training camp, although he’s most excited to see how the team looks defensively when the Lakers play in their preseason opener against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night at the Honda Center.
Speaking of preseason, Walton said the emphasis is on coaching, teaching, and testing different lineups, rather than winning games. Walton will be looking to spread out minutes, give a lot of different players playing time and find both smaller and bigger lineups that work well together.
Over the weekend, D’Angelo Russell told Lakers TV that the energy and intensity of this Lakers team starts with Julius Randle and what he brings. On Monday, Russell explained why Randle’s energy is such a big factor.
“Cause he’s gifted at his size, he’s gifted at his ability and whenever he brings it, the intensity level goes up on his defenders, they have to step up on their level of play or they’ll get dominated, and then on the offensive end, he sets hard screens and he’s making shots and he’s finishing everywhere, rebounding it, just makes it easier for everybody,” Russell said.
Interestingly, Walton had almost an identical response as to why it’s Randle’s intensity that ignites the spark and sets the barometer for the rest of the team.
“He’s such a phenomenal athlete,” Walton explained. “When he’s playing at a high level, and he’s pushing the ball in transition, and he’s up pressuring his man on defense, good things happen for us. When he’s playing at that pace, it obviously picks the guys up, because we’re normally getting run outs or we’re getting fast break three-point shots because guards have to come in and help defend his initial push, so we’re encouraging him to play like that more.”
But, Walton knows it isn’t easy to maintain that level of play every drill, every possession, every scrimmage.
“I know it’s really hard to play at that level,” Walton said of Randle. “We’ll give him breaks if he gets tired but we’re going to get on him about playing consistently at that level.”
Randle said he does feel the need to constantly bring energy, knowing how it impacts the rest of the team, and although it isn’t easy, he’s up for the challenge.
“It is hard,” Randle admitted. “It’s not the easiest thing in the world to play crazy hard all the time. It takes a toll but it’s what the team needs and that’s what everybody has to do in order to win. So, to be that catalyst, the leader from that perspective. I mean, it’s just what I have to do, playing as hard as I can, and being more vocal.”
The Lakers take on the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night at Honda Center, 7:00pm.
Lakers 5-On-5 Scrimmage Footage
Yi Jianlian and Timofey Mozgov shooting threes
Luke Walton on his preseason coaching philosophy
Julius Randle on his leadership role and challenges that come with it
D’Angelo Russell says he feels less pressure than he did last year
Brandon Ingram talks about how Luke Walton gets everyone to buy in