The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected every aspect of how the NBA operates in a normal year, manifesting a new challenge for teams. Among those challenges is limited practice time, something the Los Angeles Lakers have familiarized themselves with for quite some time.
When the league announced the 2020 NBA playoffs would resume in the Orlando bubble last year, the schedule for teams was condensed and games were played shortly after one another. Since the Lakers battled in the bubble until they hoisted the NBA Championship, playing games in quick succession with infrequent practice opportunities became customary.
The 2020-21 season is still enmeshed in the pandemic, so the bubble struggles are still unraveling. The Lakers are coming off a stretch where they played nine games in 13 days and have a rare two-day break before taking the floor again against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
Forward Kyle Kuzma, who has been with the Lakers through these unprecedented moments, explained how the team deals with limited practice time, citing having the proper mindset is crucial.
“We’re honestly used to it,” Kuzma said. “We were in a bubble and won a championship without no practices. Barely practice pre-COVID last year. It’s all about your mental. It’s all mental. That’s one thing I’ve learned over this past year and a half with no practices. I used to think you had to practice, but not saying you don’t, but if your head is in the right place and you have the right mindset and you understand and watch enough film you kind of get the drift of what you’ve got to do.”
Kuzma added how despite the compressed schedule, the show must go on and the Lakers must maintain their effort.
“That being said, no practice you’ve still got to go in and get your work in. Get shots in, continue to lift and be a professional, so those are the things I’ve kind of learned over a year and a half. It’s been good to us so far.”
Vogel discusses when and why Lakers pursued Andre Drummond
Along with a truncated regular season embroiled in the pandemic, injuries have affected the Lakers in myriad ways. Los Angeles didn’t use the trade deadline to add new talent to the roster but added Andre Drummond through the buyout market for extra frontcourt help.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel detailed when the interest in Drummond ramped up.
“It’s tough to pick a certain point,” Vogel said. “Obviously, when they (Cleveland Cavaliers) did what they did in terms of they said they might consider a trade or a buyout. At that point, we started talking about him as a potential buyout candidate.
“There’s a lot of guys that fall into that category that we keep an eye out and see how things progress. We knew that as things got closer to the trade deadline, it because more real. I don’t know if there’s a certain date where we felt like this was going to happen. It just kept getting closer and closer as the buyout season came closer.”
Vogel also expressed confidence in Drummond’s abilities to immediately bolster the offensive attack.
“He’s one of the most dominant rollers, lob catchers, post players, offensive rebounders in the game. Screeners,” Vogel said. “The list is long for how he’s going to contribute to our group. I do think he’s going to have an impact on our group right away offensively.”
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