The Los Angeles Lakers joined the list of NBA teams to re-open their practice facility, and while it provides players with an opportunity to expand on their workouts, strict protocols from the league remain in place.
Among other guidelines, group settings are prohibited and players are limited to working with one trainer while on the premises. When full team practices are eventually allowed, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel will need to figure out how to slowly bring players back to NBA-level conditioning without putting them at risk of injury.
It has been two months since the NBA’s hiatus began, and rushing back into full scale practices may cause huge injury problems. Vogel acknowledged as much and explained he will be looking to find a balance between advancing players conditioning while keeping their bodies healthy and not overworked, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I think we have to find that balance of pushing their conditioning without breaking down their bodies,” Vogel said. “And it’s a great unknown when you have players that have been unable to be on the basketball court for this long. No one has ever really been around this type of situation, so I think we’re all going to put our heads together, rely heavily on the guidance of our sports performance team, the common sense of our coaching staff and try to build them up at the right pace and try to find that balance.”
While players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis – who have fully equipped home gyms and basketball courts – may be in better basketball shape still, there are some players who may have gone several weeks without even shooting a basketball since the shutdown began.
On top of needing to slowly build up through individual and eventual team practices, Vogel is of the belief players require exhibition or regular-season games. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has not made a decision on how play will resume, but some within the league anticipate that will be directly into the playoffs.
However it ultimately unfolds, Vogel and the Lakers training staff will need to be in constant communication with the players about how their bodies are feeling, and demonstrate an ability to react accordingly.
If the Lakers hope to win a championship this season, easing the return to full speed basketball is crucial.