Luke Walton sent a message with his first practice plan of 2017 training camp. Every drill was a defensive one.
Across the two-hour session at the UCLA Health Training Center, the Lakers worked on individual defense, team defense, transition defense and defensive rebounding before allowing players to get some shots up after practice.
The Lakers began their first practice ahead of the scheduled 11 a.m. start time, just a little while after Lonzo Ball began the day with his standard breakfast of waffles and eggs sunny-side-up.
Ball has embraced the idea of having a “Lakers mentality” that the front office and coaching staff has told players begins with defense.
Walton applauded the way Ball used his length to contest shots at his first practice, while the second-overall pick himself said that he has to get used to matching up against some powerful NBA bodies.
“Playing defense out here against grown men is physical,” Ball said. “Especially against Julius (Randle) when he’s coming down to the left — it’s a lot of work.”
The Lakers will have more work to do in the afternoon, as the first four days of camp will be two-a-day sessions.
After getting after it defensively on Tuesday morning, the team will work on running in transition during the day’s second practice.
“I think this was the defensive practice,” Brandon Ingram said. “… It’s what we worked on all day.”
Walton sees Ingram as someone who will be a great defender in his career. And while he would like for the 20-year-old to become one now, he understands that patience is key with a player trying to live up to his potential.
“The guy covers six feet with every slide he takes,” Walton said. “He’s low and he’s balanced and he wants it. He’ll get there eventually.”
Big Men on the Mend
The Lakers began camp with a pair of centers limited in their participation.
Projected to start at the five, Brook Lopez was limited to non-contact drills due to back spasms that he doesn’t expect be a serious issue.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bogut was unable to practice because of an issue with his visa.
But second-year center Ivica Zubac was available and impressed Walton by showing up to camp in great shape.
The 20-year-old even earned a new nickname — “8 Percent” — after the results of measuring his body fat percentage.
“He said, ‘Coach, do you remember I was at 19?’” Walton said. “I said, ‘I know, I was making fun of you for that.’”
A post shared by Los Angeles Lakers (@lakers) on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:21am PDT