Entering the offseason, the front office and coaching staff of the Los Angeles Lakers had a simple message for their players. In order to be able to play at the uptempo pace head coach Luke Walton wanted, the entire team would need to make a concerted effort to prepare their bodies. Now entering the offseason, both the organization and their fans can see the changes Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Ivica Zubac and others have undergone.
After subpar results during the 2016-17 season, the message to their players was simple. With a state of the art training facility in the UCLA Training Health Center, a top-notch nutritionist, and a new strength and endurance coach in Gunnar Peterson, the Lakers had the proper assets to help their players adapt to the evolving NBA.
Now at the conclusion of training camp, these young players are starting to comprehend the benefits of their relative transformations. Randle, who dropped his body fat down to six percent, is a first-hand witness. Randle recently summarized just how big of a difference it makes for his stamina.
“I feel great, just light on my feet, trying to play with energy and pace, being active, feel like I can be active for long stretches of time without getting tired […] Cover more ground, in better shape so I see things before they happen. Fatigue makes a coward of us all, so I’m able to just move around and do it without thinking.”
Although practices aren’t the same as in-game situations, stamina is a great gauge for how they will fair, especially with Walton incorporating a lot in such a small amount of time. The Lakers preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves will be the first test for the young Lakers.
Randle, entering a contract season, has a lot on the line entering the 2017-18 campaign. While he will likely be the starter once the season begins, the Lakers have a logjam at the power forward position. He and Larry Nance Jr. have spoken about pushing each other to get better, meanwhile rookie Kyle Kuzma continues to turn heads in practices.
Entering his fourth season, Randle will have a lot of pressure on him as he looks to secure a big contract next summer. He has worked hard this offseason to improve his game and now he will get the chance to show it off.