A regular occurrence after practices last season had Los Angeles Lakers assistant coaches Miles Simon and Brian Shaw competing against rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma in a game of around the world.
The entertaining shootouts serve as another example of the competitive spirit head coach Luke Walton has cultivated, and the competitions often include friendly banter and trash-talking.
After one memorable matchup in which Shaw and Walton (filling in for Simon) erased a 2-0 deficit to defeat Ball and Kuzma, the young forward admitted, “B Shaw got in my head. He’s a king trash-talker. He kept calling me ‘short dog,’ because I kept missing short.”
Following Saturday’s practice, the last before the Lakers begin their six-game preseason schedule, Miles and Simon went shot-for-shot against Ball and rookie Svi Mykhailiuk, who has been a standout in training camp.
Ball and Mykhailiuk have regularly shot together on the same basket at the conclusion of practices. And though Mykhailiuk is regarded as the better shooter of the two, Ball has flashed a much smoother release and improved results thus far.
While there was plenty of buzz over a refined jump shot, Ball maintains there was little change. He instead believes added strength is more of a factor as he no longer needs to “fling” the ball toward the rim.