Lakers’ camp is in full swing and while we still don’t know a lot, we are getting snippets of information about a variety of topics. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are looking good. Jordan Farmar looks primed to excel in a system that is a better fit than the one he last played in while a Laker. Wes Johnson is also getting nice reviews, using his length and athleticism to flash some defensive potential while also knocking down his outside jumper.
To this point, however, these bits of news were all delivered via word of mouth from players or members of the coaching staff. What we haven’t had the chance to do is actually see any of these things happening. Well, that’s now changed. At least somewhat:
What we see in the video above is a brief clip of the Lakers scrimmaging in a recent practice. At certain points the team seems to be going three-quarter speed and all we really get are positive plays, but that doesn’t make footage like this entirely useless. In fact, some of the things we see can give us good hints into what the team will be doing in the pre-season.
A few notes:
*Nearly every half court set looks to involve at least one screen and roll as a way of initiating the offense. Even when the team runs a classic HORNS set (with both big men starting out at the elbows), Nash uses the set up to initiate a P&R with Kaman at the elbow rather than just entering the ball into the big man and starting the sequence of cuts and screens that would typically follow.
*We’re still seeing a lot of actions that lead to big men shooting jumpers out of half court sets. Kaman did a lot of floating around 15-18 feet away from the hoop and Pau did a lot of flashing into open spaces into the same areas. Both big men are capable of hitting shots from that distance, but both are also more than capable of doing work closer to the basket. I hope to see more of the latter during the pre-season.
*Speaking of the big men, Pau and Kaman were on the same team in the scrimmage action. I don’t think this is anything to be overly concerned about as D’Antoni has already said he thinks both bigs will share the floor during the season. That said, I still have my concerns about the team’s defense when those two share the floor.
*It’s easy to see some of the quickness the team has picked up with guys like Wes Johnson, Farmar, and Shawne Williams running around the perimeter and crashing into the paint. It remains to be seen if those players can make the same types of hustle plays against the caliber of athlete they’ll see on other teams (rather than some of the athletes they see in their own practice), but it’s nice to see guys getting to loose balls and creating positive plays through that hustle.
*All we saw were makes, but it sure is nice to see Nash, Pau, Kaman, Farmar, and others knock down some long jumpers. If the Lakers are going to be a top 10 offense this season (which they’ll need to be if they hope to compete for the playoffs), they’ll need their shooters to hit shots and create the spacing to help their teammates who work in the post and want to get into the lane off the dribble.
The point in all this isn’t to draw too many conclusions about what the team will do on either end of the floor. But, footage like what we saw above does offer some hints as to what this team will try to be. As they continue to evolve and incorporate their entire roster, we should see even more of what they’re capable of. But, even if it’s only in the form of a brief clip of a scrimmage, it’s nice to see the Lakers playing basketball again.