After consecutive days of two-a-day practices, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton decided to reward players for their hard work this week by having just one practice on Friday afternoon. Walton said he could tell everyone was tired, so they frontloaded practice with transition and team defense drills and cleaned up some of the offense before ending with some lighter competition drills.
There were three competitions at the end of practice: home-run pass, one-on-one, and three-point shooting. Julius Randle held it down for the bigs in the one-on-ones and Travis Wear came out on top from behind the arc (you can watch the footage in the video above).
“Something different that coach brings,” D’Angelo Russell said about the competitions at the end of practice. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it. It feels like you’re going back to your roots, going back to the high school days where you’re just competing, and you’re still laughing about it at the same time.”
Walton said Yi Jianlian has been “shooting the heck out of the ball” in training camp and said he’s probably the best three-point shooter on the team out of the bigs.
“It’s obviously something we can use,” Walton said of Yi’s shooting abilities. “A big man that can step behind the three-point line and help space the floor. I’m a big believer in playing in an open space style of game.”
Walton isn’t the only one who had something to say about the seven-footer. Jordan Clarkson said Yi is one of the players who surprised him during training camp.
“He really stretched the floor in last night’s scrimmage, and he’s pretty athletic as well, and he gets after it on the defensive end,” Clarkson said Friday.
Speaking of scrimmages, prior to the rookie talent show, the Lakers scrimmaged in their second session on Thursday night, and Walton said “everything” was better about those games in comparison to the first.
“Last night’s scrimmage was 100X better than the night before, less turnovers, less fouling, better spacing, better rhythm to the offense, our defensive rotations were better,” Walton said Friday.
Speaking of fouling, Walton said limiting fouls is going to be a crucial emphasis for the upcoming season, emphasizing that they can’t be a team that constantly sends other teams to the free throw line. As such, there are referees at every practice where there is any competition going on. The referees allow the coaching staff to focus on teaching and coaching, while also providing the staff with the information they need to assess how their players are coming along in the fouling department.
For more from training camp, check out our videos below.