After winning more than 30 games for the first time in five seasons, Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka challenged the young core during their exit meetings.
At the very top of the list, Johnson and Pelinka wanted Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball to transform their bodies heading into their respective second and third seasons like Julius Randle did the previous offseason.
As training camp approaches, new photos and videos are being released to showcase the new physiques of the young core.
In just five months, Pelinka revealed the strides the young core has made during “Evening with the Lakers,” via ESPN Los Angeles:
“Josh Hart committed to really getting stronger, faster, better with his ball handling. We saw him go to Las Vegas in the Summer League and win MVP. … I think Kyle Kuzma, when he steps on the court Opening Night, you’ll just see how he’s completely changed his physique. His back is stronger, his shoulders. He spent a couple sessions with Kobe working out down in Orange County on his footwork. He’s been hitting the track. Big changes in his game. And I think with Lonzo, of course he hasn’t been able to play 5-on-5 basketball because he had to have a scope on his knee. But just the way he stayed dedicated to reshaping his body and making sure if he’s playing against a really strong point guard, like a Russell Westbrook who is going to come at him with his aggressive nature and give him a bump, Lonzo will be able to take it or even bump him back. You’ll see that in his physique as well. We’re really proud of our young guys and what they’ve done.”
After being extremely competitive despite all of the injuries, the young core was a major factor in LeBron James signing a four-year, $154 million contract in free agency. Instead of trading them for Kawhi Leonard, James believes in the team’s vision in the short- and long-term.
Heading into Year 1 with James, the young core will have to learn on the fly as the Lakers are not only expected to end their five-year playoff drought but make a deep run. While they are fairly inexperienced, they are trying to make up for that through hours in the practice facility.
Want to get your content COMPLETELY AD FREE? Follow us on Apple News!