All sights are set towards training camp for the Los Angeles Lakers, as head coach Luke Walton gets set for his second season as head coach. With Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka in charge of the front office, the Lakers have a newfound sense of optimism surrounding the franchise. With the Lakers steadily training at the UCLA Training Health Center, they now prepare to carve out their roles ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
There will be many exciting matchups at training camp that Walton and his staff will have to evaluate, including a logjam at the power forward position. Julius Randle, who is entering a contract year, has truly transformed his body to adapt to Walton’s system. After cutting down to less than eight percent body fat, Randle seems poised to fit right into the up-tempo pace Walton has in store.
During ‘An Evening with the Lakers Brass’, Walton discussed the exciting matchups heading into training camp, with the power forward spot topping the lost. In a piece on Lakers.com by Mike Trudell, Walton weighs the options, setting the stage for a battle at training camp:
“There’s a great competition there between Julius and Larry (Nance, Jr.) and (Kyle) Kuzma, who can play some four too and is probably the best 3-point shooter out of the three of them.”
Larry Nance Jr. has demonstrated a high basketball IQ, with an unmatched athleticism and great decision-making. While capable of being a starter, Nance Jr. solidified the bench unit and was a defensive anchor consistently throughout the 2016-17 season.
Lastly, the expectations for rookie Kyle Kuzma are surely up in the air. After being voted one of the steals of the 2017 NBA Draft, Kuzma exploded during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League and was promptly named the Finals MVP. He fits into the evolved NBA, as a stretch-four with a capable three-point shot.
Kuzma will have a hard challenge ahead of himself, as he not only battles Nance Jr. and Randle, but also attempts to carve out minutes behind Brandon Ingram at the small forward position.
Training camp is always an exciting time for the coaching staff, as their hungry roster competes to separate themselves from the teammates they bonded with during the offseason. With a relatively young Lakers roster, which has been active and participating this entire offseason, Walton has a chance to prepare his roster for what could be a huge 2017-18 campaign.