Lakers Training Camp: Youth Shining Bright in First Days of Practice

Sep 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Zach Auguste (29), forward Anthony Brown (3) and forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) at media day at Toyota Sports Center.. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Zach Auguste (29), forward Anthony Brown (3) and forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) at media day at Toyota Sports Center.. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers had their practice televised on NBA TV on Friday and the positives from training camp were ripe for the picking

Although there wasn’t a formal scrimmage on Friday, the Lakers coaching staff did have the players go up against each other in drills and a one-on-one, King of the Hill type tournament. The young core impressed in both of these areas, with several veterans also turning in solid performances.

In King of the Hill, Brandon Ingram especially impressed, showing off his smooth stroke and feel for the game. At one point, Ingram rose up and drained three jumpers in a row, all of them coming right over the top of fairly tight defense. Ingram also shot the ball exceptionally well from deep in the first few practices.

Julius Randle was the other standout from the tournament, as he used his strength to push around pretty much everyone else on the team. Randle was eventually crowned the winner of the competition, beating Ingram in the final round, bullying his way in the post.

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As a side note, it was good to see Ingram compete with Randle down low. Despite losing the matchup and being considerably outsized, Ingram didn’t let himself get pushed out of the play and contested Randle’s shots as best as he could.

As Ingram likely won’t match up with anyone as strong as Randle during the season, this was a very good sign and further evidence that his weight may not as big of a concern as many may think.

D’Angelo Russell wasn’t featured much in the footage from Friday’s practice, but has shown off his shooting ability in the work-outs from the past few days. He has also done a good job of being a vocal leader on the court, and seems to be demonstrating a solid grasp of what his new coach wants from him and the team.

Jordan Clarkson also appears to have taken steps forward, as his jump shot looks much more controlled and accurate this time around. If he can continue to improve as a shooter alongside Russell and Ingram, the Purple and Gold will finally have a chance to become truly imposing from deep.

Even more importantly however, is Clarkson’s, and the team’s as a whole, progress on the defensive side of the ball. While we didn’t get a chance to see them going full speed, the practice seemed to emphasize defense to a large extent. JC made a few solid defensive plays during the drills which, combined with improved coaching, should leave fans hopeful for improvement on that end.

Larry Nance Jr. looked as springy as ever, dunking nearly everything he touched in his typically effortless fashion. There was also a fun stretch of film in which Randle and Nance went at each other a few times in a row, showing some impressive competitiveness in the process.

Of course, it would outrageous to discuss the Lakers young core without discussing everyone’s favorite prospect, Ivica Zubac. The young center has continued to impress with an extremely advanced offensive game for his age. Over the course of this year’s camp he has drained hook shots, jumpers, and has even begun developing a sky-hook.

At the end of today’s tape Zubac hit back-to-back threes to keep himself alive in the team’s practice ending three-point shootout. This is an especially promising development, as Zubac’s value would sky-rocket if he was able to truly space the floor at his size.

He has also shown what seems to be improved mobility and bounce throughout the camp, a sign that he is responding well to the team’s strength and conditioning program.

Although it’s still far to early to judge the progress of this Lakers team, what we’ve seen so far has definitely been promising.

While adding wins is important, this season will be a success as long as the Lakers young core is able to assert themselves as a viable foundation for the franchise, which is definitely within reach.