Lakers’ Summer League: Five things to watch

first_imgEL SEGUNDO >> The smiles soon formed and laughs quickly erupted. The Lakers had just started their summer-league practice, but it also marked the beginning of coach Luke Walton casting a favorable impression.He participated in rebounding drills with his players. He knocked down some 3-pointers. And he told some jokes. “It’s a different feel,” Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “But it’s fun.”Few would describe the 2015-16 season that way after the Lakers finished with a franchise-worst 17-65 record. Beyond the results, some Lakers players felt frustration with former Lakers coach Byron Scott offering a stern coaching approach he believed was necessary for a young roster. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Lakers have liked Ingram’s humble and respectful demeanor, partly stemmed from a nurturing and accountable support system in his hometown of Kinston, N.C. Walton also has become impressed with Ingram’s ballhandling, post-up game and defensive hustle. Ingram could face challenges, including whether he can reduce his turnovers and adapt to the more physical NBA with a listed 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame. Yet, Ingram could overcome those hiccups with his attitude alone. “Doing whatever the coach wants you to do, no matter what it is,” Ingram said. “It’s about sacrificing your body and doing stuff off the court and on the court. Just being coachable.”2. Will D’Angelo Russell rebound from last year’s Summer League outing?The smile formed on Russell’s face as he reflected on both the team’s young roster and Walton’s coaching style.“Everything’s positive,” Russell said.Russell did not give off that vibe during his Summer League debut last year. Then, he averaged 11.8 points on 38 percent shooting and had more turnovers (3.5) than assists (3.2). Russell’s rookie season both featured potential as a playmaker and hurdles, including losing his starting position. Russell has since trained extensively this offseason on “a little bit of everything,” including a more developed post-up game. “He wants to get better,” Walton said of Russell. “For a young point guard to have that open mind and come in the gym to put in the work to back it up is exciting.” Russell circled back toward Walton’s style, which has helped him become more comfortable. “He has a great coaching staff around him that lets you know if you don’t make the right play, and it helps you learn from it,” Russell said. “If you mess up, there’s a teaching moment after it that goes into the next play.”3. How much will Nance expand his game?The Lakers’ second-year forward promised two things in his Summer League return.One is expected.“I’d like to see myself on SportsCenter a few times,” Nance said, referring to his high-flying dunks.Another is something that has mostly been kept out of the public view.“You’ll see more 3’s from me,” Nance said.Will Nance find the balance with those two skills? It appears tricky since Nance cannot figure out how he will evolve his game while playing with Julius Randle, who will miss summer league since he is a third-year player. Yet, these inconsequential contests could give Nance more freedom to experiment.“It’s something I always knew I could do and can do. But it’s a matter of shooting in practice and in games,” Nance said. “That’s what I’m trying to simulate and get used to.” 4. What will Ivica Zubac show?The 7-foot-1, 240-pound Croatian center might need to pinch himself a few times. To his unexpected surprise, he actually is playing for the Lakers. Zubac will have to wipe away that nostalgia quickly and transfer that energy to the court. The Lakers may have shown investment by agreeing to a three-year deal with the No. 32 pick. Yet, Zubac will have to answer questions about how much time he will need to develop. 5. Can the Lakers accomplish what they want in Summer League?Ingram outlined his summer-league goals simply by stating he wants “to win.” Yet, the Lakers’ success could go beyond how much they can improve from last year’s 1-4 showing. “As long as they’re playing in the right way and sharing the ball,” Walton said. “Anytime you’re competing, you should want to win. I’m more interested in seeing the development in the way we’re playing as a unit.”Walton praised the team’s ball movement during drills this week. Yet, he noticed one-on-one habits emerged during scrimmaging. “That’s natural,” Walton said. “A lot of guys have never played together before and fatigue kicks in. But they’ve been giving maximum effort.” center_img Walton has taken a different approach heading into the Lakers’ Summer League opener against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. “We got a new group of guys, young guys that are hungry to learn,” Walton said. “We’re going out there to coach them every day and they’re asking questions. They’re busting their tails for us. I’m having a blast right now.”How will the Lakers carry over those feel-good offseason vibes into summer league? Here are five things to monitor:1. How will Brandon Ingram look in the NBA?The Lakers became interested enough in his outside shooting and defense during his lone season at Duke. It did not take long for Ingram to provide more positive impressions after the Lakers selected him No. 2 overall in the NBA draft. last_img

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