After piling in a bus on Monday afternoon shortly after the conclusion of media day, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to Santa Barbara for training camp for the first time since 1999. Training camp wasn’t always scheduled to take place on the campus of UCSB. It wasn’t until recently that new head coach Luke Walton talked to general manager Mitch Kupchak about wanting to travel away from their practice facility in El Segundo for training camp, specifically to encourage team bonding.
The bonding already started after their first practice was in the books on Tuesday. The team rejoiced as if they had just hit a buzzer-beating game winner when Timofey Mozgov nailed the final free-throw of practice, canceling out any further running drills and sending assistant coach Brian Shaw to center court for twenty push-ups. Walton raved about everyone’s willingness to focus on defensive drills that can sometimes be quite mundane and took up about 80 percent of today’s practice.
Regarding No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, besides how impressed Walton was with his fundamentals on the defensive end, it’s really been his attitude that has stood out.
“Ingram’s attitude is awesome,” Walton said after the first day of practice. “You can tell he’s been coached and he’s been…how would you say, parented correctly. This guy is incredible. He’s an incredible person. He hasn’t complained once since he’s been here this summer. He’s a phenomenal guy.”
No. 32 pick Ivica Zubac also stood out.
“I’m so impressed with him,” Walton said of Zubac. “I don’t think he gets nervous, honestly. He just keeps putting his head down and grinding.”
Second-year guard D’Angelo Russell explained how different the vibe was on day one of training camp, citing “the atmosphere” as the biggest thing that stood out. The advantage of having a new coach and a new system meant that no one was “separating themselves,” as Russell put it. Instead, everyone was in on everything, together.
Lou Williams, Jose Calderon and Luol Deng were some of the leaders emerging after day one. Walton said Williams has been a very “solid” leader, even though he leads with more of a calm and quiet demeanor. Ingram said Deng was talking the entire practice and leading in defensive drills.
There’s a double-day in store for day two of training camp on Wednesday. Walton said he doesn’t want to start adding scrimmages to training camp until the players start picking up his concepts and mastering drills. We’ll see how long it takes for the players to catch on.
For more from day one of training camp, check out all of our interviews and footage below.
Lakers Shootaround Raw Footage (Julius Randle extending his range)