LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers began their journey of the 2021-22 season this week with the start of training camp, a season which they hope will cultivate in the organizations’ 18th championship.
As he enters the 19th season of his career, James has been through this a ton of times, but he will have the difficult task of bringing together essentially a brand new team with only three players returning from last year’s roster.
One thing the Lakers have going for them compared to last year though is they had a normal offseason of more than four months. Because of that, James has already noticed a difference in the energy level through the first two practices.
“Yeah, it’s just the energy,” James said. “Energy alone is just, last year after coming off the bubble, it literally took everything away from you. Any little bit of energy that you had, it was completely gone when we left there. So to come back into the season with the quick start that we had, kind of the life of the party was a little bit just like it was kind of stale, rightfully so. Guys just didn’t get an opportunity to have a mental break. So you could definitely feel the energy shift a lot more this season in the first two practices compared to last.”
James’ voice was waning when speaking to the media, which just goes to show how vocal he has been so far.
Energy and competitiveness in practice is something both Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook pointed out on Wednesday as well, so it’s clear that everyone is taking things seriously and setting the tone early for the season to come.
James compared the last two days to the first day of school for kids as the players to continue to get to know one another.
“Absolutely. Just all part of the process, continue to work on habits, continue to emphasize what we want to do offensively and defensively and build a culture of how we want to play Lakers basketball this season. So good two days so far.”
As far as James goes personally, no one knows his body and what it takes to be ready for the season more than him. He elaborated on the things he has to do to be in shape and rhythm by Opening Night.
“I think it will be getting back into playing shape. Like I feel great, I got my body and like I said, in the best possible chance to be in the best shape I can be. But there’s no simulation for once you get out on the floor, just talking about 5-on-5, you’ve got other grown men leaning and bumping on you and hanging on and things of that nature.
“So getting my wind, that’s one and then getting my rhythm. I’m always still doing that so obviously talking with Coach Vogel, talking with Mike Mancias and the training staff, we’ll talk about how we balance out the preseason, things of that nature, where I can get some rest but at the same time, get in rhythm and get my wind too. But my wind and my rhythm is most important to me.”
James hopes Lakers can get back to being best fastbreak team
One thing that the Lakers seem to be emphasizing in practice is getting out in transition, which is easy to do when you have James and Russell Westbrook on you team.
James spoke about how much they want to get back to be a top fastbreak team, which was the case in 2019-20 but not 2020-21.
“Well we definitely want to get back to [being number] one. I think that’s the best part that we can do this year is our ability to get out of run. Obviously Russ is always top five in pace in our league, so being able to use that and extend and use that to our advantage is gonna be beneficial to our overall offense.”
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