Lakers’ Scrimmage Footage Offers Some Hints

Darius Soriano —  October 4, 2013

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.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers’ Scrimmage Footage Offers Some Hints

  1. hey darius: think “mud” gave us the same snippet from your previous post questioning kobe’s return. nonetheless, good to see the “healthy” running up and down the court. what’s up with that side confrontation between kamen and gasol? probably reading too much into it to question their thoughts but here’s hoping the defensive intensity picks up a little more in the next snippet or two. tomorrow’s exhibition game should be a little more telling.

    hopefully a win here and there during the preseason will be helpful. who want’s to be thinking we need another coaching change if we lose all exhibition games…

    as if, right?

    Go Lakers


  2. Both Nash and Pau along with Young are not playing tomorow. Guess I won’t be driving to Ontario.


  3. Got to say that it warms my heart watching the team in action and seeing Nash look a bit like his old self with those crisp passes.


  4. I think this team will surprise some people. As the season approaches, I am getting more and more optimistic. Last season, every laker, coaching staff, team executives, even Kobe tried too hard to please Howard. Now the pressure is off, everyone can be more comfortable playing their style of play. So even if Lakers probably can’t even make it to conference final, but they will be entertaining to watch. Or at least they will make it interesting enough to attract some free agents.


  5. Albert, i think so too.

    all i heard about last year was what Dwight did or did not want, yet i never saw full effort from Dwight on the floor. goodness, against SA in the playoffs, he could have willed one win, or at least made one game close if he was really the future Lakers superstar. Kobe would have and has, Kareem would have and has, Magic would have and has. West would have and definitely has. even Lebron would have been good for at least ONE game of maximum effort. ;^)

    Dwight didn’t have to give the effort, but if everyone was bending over backwards for him, even if Kobe wasn’t(which he was in his own way, imo), you’d think a good teammate would want to reciprocate. but that’s a dead horse. even if Houston does well or better than the Lakers, it’s ok that he’s gone. there’s better out there somewhere. i’m just thankful that i won’t be seeing a guy who is not a good post up player dominating the offense by demanding to post up or refusing to play hard if he’s not allowed to. what was Kobe’s great crime against Howard? telling him to concentrate on defense, pick n rolls and cleaning up the garbage, all the things that he’s actually good at.

    it has to feel much better on that team to know that everyone’s on board, at least for now. that may be worth nothing, but it may also be the Pearl of Great Value.


  6. Nice to see them play, specially that smooth touch by Kaman… However, it’s too soon to take any form of conclusion yet, specially since the video was severily edited. I would rather see some of the misses to learn more about the team. Guess they won’t publish it though.


  7. @mud: I agree about Howard..kinda glad we didn’t overpay for him. Seemed like everytime he had a great game he declared “I feel 85-90%”…then we see mediocrity and he claims oh I’m still injured. Just wished we had traded for draft picks instead of letting him go for just cap space…seemed kinda personal but eh…

    One thing about scrimmages and practices, and I can attest as a former coach albeit high school is that the scrimmages usually look rougher than what it really is. Looking forward to seeing what the offensive mastermind has put in store for the team.

    And I want to say for all of the people talking about the Howard metrics defensively +/- vs him on the the floor, I think this year is a lot different because before it was just try your best, I mean there was no system that you could easily identify. At least with Rambis on board we can try to have an organized defensive system.


  8. DH: No matter how bad DH’s attitude was or how weak willed he was – having him walk out the door was not and never will be a good thing. When you have a player walk like that – you are giving up a huge economic resource and getting nothing in return. It can’t be justified or even mitigated. It is a huge loss. When it happens – it has effects that can last years.
    Mud – Fan Discussion from Prior Thread: When I am at games or talking smack with opposing team’s fans, I am an over the top homer. I am the guy the people in the 100 section are wishing would shut up so they could talk on their I-phones. I also rarely say anything negative when I am at games. Now moving to this board – we are supposed to be talking with a little realism and intelligence about the Lakers, so I don’t just drink, get obnoxious, and say Kobe Rules in all caps. While I do say the later occasionally, there is no reason why me or any of the other posters are less Laker fans than you because we think this season will be a bust and that there are things that could have been done to prevent that. Trust me – I will still be rooting every game, flying to away games to cheer on Kobe, and posting on this board without regard to the record. That to me is being a pretty good fan, but everyone is entitled to there own definition of that for themselves – just not necessarily for others.


  9. And I want to say for all of the people talking about the Howard metrics defensively +/- vs him on the the floor, I think this year is a lot different because before it was just try your best, I mean there was no system that you could easily identify. At least with Rambis on board we can try to have an organized defensive system

    We’ll see. But on/off numbers of that level are very striking, and Howard has been DPOY multiple times. I think people will see the magnitude of the effect of these things for themselves when the season starts. For the Lakers to be decent, they will need to have a Top 10 offense and a defense in the 15-20 range.

    The other side is that the OEFF/DEFF numbers for the Pau/Hill combo were quite good in a small sample, so that is a tangible reason for hope.

    And, of course, I agree with Robert’s post.


  10. lol!
    since when did i specifically judge anyone’s fandom?
    i defined fan for those who might wish to extend the meaning beyond what it is. if anyone has a guilty conscience, that’s on them. by all means, take off the rose colored glasses, but don’t stick to your expectations of disaster to the point where you start hoping for that disaster, just to be correct.

    i’m really looking forward to these two preseason games, tonight and tomorrow. i want to see the team looking organised and crisp, as least as much as possible for this point in the season and with so many people playing who are going to be cut.


  11. Robert,
    “Having DH walk out the door was not and will never be a good thing.”

    That is impossible to say until after this year and five years down the road. It’s also silly to say. What if Dwight is the same average Center (PER) he was last year for the rest of his career? What if the Lakers get a top pic in the draft this year and can lure LeBron, Melo, and another star who will have a better five years than Howard? To say Dwight leaving was for sure a bad thing is short sighted. The butterfly effect is pretty impossible to predict. Signing Howard to the max when his best years are by far behind him wasn’t a no brainer. And it could have kept the Lakers average for another decade if he didn’t ever again resemble the player he was before back surgery.


  12. For those outside the LA area, like myself, NBA TV has the game tonight vs. the Warriors at 10 PM EST.


  13. mud: “you start hoping for that disaster” I think you just did it again. Nobody is hoping for losses. Saying I think it is going to rain today, is far from hoping it is going to rain.
    Aaron: “Butterfly Effect” Good one and of course correct as nobody can see the future. However – I know you wanted to keep Dwight, so I am not sure your point : ) I also know you did not want him to walk for nothing. Now yes – in one of the many parallel universes, this might work out in our favor – that I will grant you. DH was 3rd team All NBA last year, and he is probably going to be All NBA this year. We will not have an All NBA player outside of KB if he comes back soon enough (if Pau surprises me – I will gladly eat those words). Talent wins Aaron – as you know : )


  14. since when did i specifically judge anyone’s fandom?

    At one point about a month ago, you said that predicting the team would do poorly/being pessimistic was “gutless.” There are other examples. But you seem to be backing away from some of that sort of thing now and taking a slightly more measured approach.

    Howard: Sure, it is possible that in 3-5 years we will look back and be glad he left. This would probably involve

    a) The Lakers going about 24-58 this year and landing an All-Star talent with their draft pick.
    b) The Lakers getting some combination Derrick Favors/Greg Monroe/Kevin Love/Marc Gasol to anchor the front line
    c) Howard’s back and personality issues making his stay in Houston disappointing to the Rockets.

    or of course

    d) LeBron James coming here

    But based on what we know now, Howard’s departure is a body blow from which it will be hard for the organization to recover.


  15. rr, there are more possiblities that you know nothing of yet.
    gutless is gutless. if something meets a definition and one uses the word properly, it is not an offense. odds are odds and admitting them is perfectly fine. calling them reality eliminates the need to actually play the games. it’s just a way to avoid being hurt by a loss that seems unavoidable. it is gutless. if you’re a fan, take your lumps when the team stinks just like you will crow when the team wins. the comment “based on what we know” is appropriate. the problem is that we know next to nothing at this point, since the games haven’t started.

    if the team could recover from Magic’s HIV diagnosis, the Howard problem is nothing.

    Robert, saying it’s going to rain is one thing. beating it into a person’s head that it WILL rain when the rain hasn’t started and isn’t 100% assured is another.

    i notice that people have violent reactions to other people disagreeing with their point of veiw, but that those same people have no problem with acting the same way towards others.

    again, pessimistic outlooks may turn out to be correct, but even if one adheres to that pessimistic outlook from the start, that person is just as big of a loser as the optimist if the team is as bad as feared. that’s assuming that both the optimist and pessimist are both fans. if the pessimist stops rooting for the team and looking for hope, then he ceases to be a fan and simply becomes a critic. there is no shame in being a critic, it’s the job of those who can’t do something, but feel that their opinion is important. sometimes a critic’s opinion is important. just sayin….

    by the way, i wouldn’t call myself an optomist or a pessimist. i really don’t expect a perfect season, not do i expect an unmitigated disaster. i think the team has a puncher’s chance. i think this year’s lineup is better than the last two year’s lineup, but that it’s still far below optimal. it may be good enough, if luck is on their side as much as it was not on their side last year.


  16. Robert,
    Yes. I wanted to keep him. If George or Cousins were UFAs I would have chosen to pass on Dwight as they are all better than him post back surgery. Last year by name he was third team all nba. By advanced statistics he was an average offensive Center. Also I heard LBJ doesn’t want to play with him (he clogs the lane). If that’s true under no cercumstances would I have tried to sign Dwight. LBJ is option one, two, and three.

    My main point is that signing Dwight (after back surgery) being the best thing for the franchise moving forward is a 65 percent prop to me. That’s why I wanted to sign him. Based on the possibility he would regain most of the athletisism he had lost. But after hearing from my NBA insider that LBJ has no interest in playing with Dwight I would have done what the Lakers have done and made little attempt to sign him. They could have told him he was the guy and not a washed up Kobe. They could have brought in Phil Jackson for him as he had asked. Losing out on a healthy Dwight would have been devastating. Losing out on last years Dwight could possibly be a blessing in disguise. This year and this upcoming offseason will tell which way the butterfly flapped it’s wings. But I don’t think it’s as clear cut as you do. Most of the time I’m almost 100 percent certain on personnel moves. This time I’m not. That should tell you something LBJ’s apparent feelings on Dwight’s abilities and my questions on his back make the future difficult to predict for me.