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I know the caveats. It’s only preseason. Training camp is only a week old. The team is still getting acclimated to new head coach Luke Walton and is still getting up to speed on what he and his staff are installing on both sides of the ball. All of this means don’t take too much away from tonight. And it’s true. You really shouldn’t.

You know what, though? I don’t even care. Lakers’ basketball is back and I’m here for it.

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After a recent training camp practice, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sportsnet interviewed D’Angelo Russell. Their chat was all the standard fare about how camp has been going and the new atmosphere under Luke Walton, but at the beginning there was an interesting exchange:

Bresnahan: Finally started to do more offense, the first couple of days was defense, defense.

Russell: Still defense. It’s been the main focus.

Bresnahan: Really? Does that surprise you?

Russell: Not really.

Bresnahan: It surprises me. Only because Luke came from Golden State right? And you would think, “oh, you guys are just going to shoot 3 pointers all day.”

Russell: Also, well, what were they? A top 3 defensive team in the league, so, it came from getting stops.

This. This right here.

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This is great news.

(h/t Pro Basketball Talk)

Training camp is here and routines are settling in. Monday’s media day became Tuesday’s 1st practice which then transitioned to Wednesday’s first two-a-day session. On and on this will go into next week when the Lakers will open their preseason schedule against the Kings on October 4th. Basketball is back. It is fantastic.

With the team’s return, however, also comes the residual baggage from season’s past. There may not be a farewell tour to navigate or an old-school coach’s soundbites and strategies try to make sense of, but there are still issues to wade through. Namely, that timeline for contention put forth by VP of Basketball Ops/Co-Owner Jim Buss.

You remember that, right? That’s a dumb question, of course you remember.

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Even though we told you not to forget about Julius Randle, not having him do much of anything basketball related since April can make that hard. We got glimpses of Russell, Nance, and Ingram at Summer League. We even got a taste of Jordan Clarkson at the Drew League. But nothing from Randle.

With the opening of training camp, that’s going to change. Soon we will get snippets of Randle practicing and getting clips of him scrimmaging. We’ll also get clips of him practicing his shooting. You know, like this one:

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As long as we have been waiting, it is hard to believe training camp is already here. So much has happened since Kobe dropped those 60 points in his epic career finale and so much of what has occurred has seemingly taken forever to transpire. Yet, media day is here and training camp right along with it.

The hiring of Luke Walton and the roster turnover has been covered in detail multiple times over. As has the change in rhetoric surrounding this new Lakers’ team, where expectations are about seeking improvement in play, development of young players, and trying to find an exciting brand of ball as opposed to harping on the playoffs or making a run that is unlikely with a roster not constructed to achieve that goal.

This is backdrop for camp, but it is not the entire story. The Lakers have 20 players heading to Santa Barbara and the ensuing competition — for roles as much as roster spots — will be worth our time and analysis every step of the way.

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The last couple of seasons the Lakers have intrigued for many of the wrong reasons. Be it a head coach who had local and national observers alike making the chin-stroke emoji face, the constant checking of tank-a-thon dot com, the declining-yet-still-defiant Kobe Bryant, or whatever other random story popped up. People wanted to talk about the Lakers, but for mostly bad reasons.

This season feels different though, doesn’t it? A new coach, another lottery pick, former lottery picks looking primed for a leap, and a team without Kobe for the first time in two decades has everyone at least a bit interested in what comes next — even if that doesn’t translate to a huge jump in wins.

I got a chance to talk with Keith Parish of Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) of the Hardwood Paroxysm Basketball Network on all this as well as what I eat for breakfast (which is important! eat more breakfast!). Give it a listen after the jump.

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We recently told you the Lakers had upped their training camp roster to 18 via the signing of 3 players. Well, their camp roster is now up to 20 after the additions of Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson according to Shams Charania of  The Vertical.

Before we get to the merits of each player, I think the best way to look at both signings as a continuation of the major theme of the Summer. After Luke Walton was hired, almost every soundbite coming from him or his staff has been related back to two central themes — competition and culture.

Walton has openly discussed wanting to establish a culture where players wanted to come into the gym and work hard. He wants players to have fun, but he wants that fun to come out of competing every day and cultivating an environment where players can improve.

The Metta and Robinson signings are an extension of these ideas.

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