Believe it or not, today marks just the 13th day in the way of Lakers’ training camp officially kicking off. While it still puts us at a relatively far distance from opening night (42 days, to be exact) it does mean we are making progress towards meaningful basketball being played. And just as we prepare our television sets and lounge chairs for this wonderful occurrence, the Lakers’ players continue to prepare their minds and bodies for the rigor that the regular season entails. Lakers Head Athletic Trainer Tim DiFrancesco recently caught up with Mike Trudell to discuss, in detail, a few of the players’ workouts over the summer. Here’s what he had to say about Hibbert and the Lakers’ youngsters:
MT: Hibbert told me during his introductory press conference in this building that he’d dropped 16 pounds already, and that was two months ago. How does that typically impact a big man like him?
TD: Roy has had a very productive offseason, including losing body fat and gaining muscle. He accomplished a good chunk of this before we signed him, but since signing he has been one of the most frequent weight-room visitors and we have seen an appropriate bump in lean mass. It is always great to lose weight, but not when you lose muscle, too. Losing the excess body fat was important because that only makes it harder to keep up with the pace of the game. A big like him has some monster bodies to bang with, so this increase in lean mass will be very helpful in that sense.
MT: How has the 19-year-old rookie, D’Angelo Russell, been developing? What have you been focusing on in getting him stronger and adjusting his body to the NBA level?
TD: We have worked on developing his lower-body balance, strength and power. He needs a strong base at his hips and core to stand up to the pace, athleticism and power that he will see from his opponents.
MT: Julius Randle looked really good, physically, in Las Vegas. His weight appears to be down, and he had his teammates calling him any number of things amounting to, basically, being a “beast.” Where does he stand right now?
TD: Julius continues to tolerate appropriate progressions in workload volume/intensity without issue. He is full speed ahead from my end, but I can’t speak to minute restrictions/practice restriction – that’s up to (head athletic trainer) Gary Vitti (and Lakers management).
MT: How has Jordan Clarkson’s summer gone with you? I know you wanted to keep adding some muscle mass, building upon the 10 pounds he added as a rookie…
TD: Jordan has been able to add a few more pounds of muscle, and I have had a number of our coaches/other players tell me how he seems stronger than ever before while on the court. He’s a true gym rat, so this does not surprise me. He has been working the sand hills pretty hard, too, so don’t be surprised to see his already impressive speed/endurance improved as well!
One of the more intriguing players heading into camp is 32-year old rookie Marcelo Huertas. One reason he draws intrigue is because he seems to be an ideal fit for the Lakers’ backup PG role, but it also stems from the fact that we really do not know what, if anything, Huertas has to offer at this next level. So with that, I scrounged up a piece by Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes from late April of this year, in which, he does a thorough job of providing everything there is to know about the Brazilian-bred point guard:
Huertas has spent the last six years in the Spanish ACB league, which is probably the most competitive non-NBA league in the world. Though his numbers this season—7.4 points and 4.9 assists per game—won’t cause widespread swooning, Huertas profiles as a solid backup guard.
He converted just 33.3 percent of his triples in the 2014 World Cup, according to Eurobasket.com. In the 2012 London Olympics, he made only 26.3 percent from deep. Those are limited samples, but Huertas‘ long-range performance for Barca in 28 games this season indicates they’re representative of his actual ability.
He hit just 29.6 percent of his triples in the ACB this year.
To be fair, he hit over 40 percent of his attempts in various Spanish leagues from 2009 to 2012, per Draft Express. But his recent accuracy has dipped, and you have to remember Huertas put up those rates with a shorter line than the one he’ll see in the NBA.
Everybody loves a crafty game manager, but it’s difficult to envision team-altering offensive play from a point guard who isn’t a legitimate three-point threat…
Despite a questionable shot from deep, Huertas is an exciting player who can drill mid-range jumpers and run the pick-and-roll.
If you’re looking for a potential comparison, Huertas has one for you.
By his own admission, per Wojnarowski, he’s got some Pablo Prigioni in him: “Prigoni is the guy most likely to get compared to me, because our career trajectory had been similar in Europe. And like him, I can run a team without worrying about scoring.”
For a bit more on Huertas, we also recommend checking out his recent media session at the Lakers practice facility.
For all the range of opinions about Kobe Bryant, one proclamation that most can sensibly agree upon is that he is, at the very least, the second best shooting guard in NBA history. There is very little controversy surrounding that statement (at least as is relative to most Kobe-inspired debates). However, when considering the top shooting guards after Kobe and Michael, developing a clear-cut third best of all-time becomes challenging.
Ben Leibowitz of Sports Illustrated recently took up this challenge and made it simple, using three different categories (Raw Scoring, Accolades, Peak Performance) to decipher one stand out among some of the all-time greats at the position. Both Lakers great Jerry West and Lakers nemesis John Havilchek were not considered among the group due to playing most of their careers listed at point guard and power forward, respectively. Here’s a snippet:
As far as pure volume scoring is concerned, Kobe and MJ again clearly separate themselves in a tier of their own. That being said, there are some intriguing takeaways to glean from the top 10 shooting guard scoring leaders.
It’s unlikely that fans or NBA historians would tab Reggie Miller or Ray Allen as the third-best shooting guard of all-time, but their status as three-point sharpshooters rocketed them up the all-time scoring list. In fact, those two comfortably lead the all-time ranking in three-pointers made.
Their accomplishments certainly deserve recognition, but Allen and Miller fit better in a discussion of the best pure shooters in league history as opposed to a debate about the third-best shooting guard. That may paint the duo into a corner, since they’ve actually become underrated in other aspects of the game. However, a more “elite” player is the only viable answer to slide in behind Bryant and Jordan in the history books—so we’ll look now to George Gervin.
The San Antonio Spurs legend checks in at No. 3 all-time on the league’s scoring list among shooting guards, but that’s only if you include his ABA years. Without them, he falls to No. 9—a less impressive, yet still highly respectable spot. Compared to Miller and Allen, he was a vastly different scorer…
We close by honoring the recent passing of one of the game’s all-time greats: Moses Eugene Malone. Malone passed this Sunday, the 13th, at the ripe age of 60 years old. As always, it feels incredibly too soon. Now admittedly, I never got the opportunity to watch Malone play, but from all I’ve read, seen and heard, Malone was a man of many monikers yet one of very rare and unique talent. Whether you referred to him as Big Mo, Chairman of the Boards, or simply Moses, Malone was always the same steady force in the middle whose double-digit offensive boards became that of clockwork and whose all-world talent earned him three MVP awards and an NBA championship ring in the process. Again, I say this all without ever seeing the man play, so instead of relaying my less-informed thoughts, I leave our fo,’ fo,’ fo’th and final link to a heartfelt eulogy by SB Nation’s Paul Flannery:
There are five stages of growing up when you’re a sports fan. The first is when players you idolize start retiring. The second is when players you saw in college start retiring and the third is when you realize players entering the pros are your own age. The fourth stage is when they start to retire and you suddenly realize that you’re older than everyone else in the league. And then there’s death, when you realize that few things are more fleeting than athletic immortality.
Moses Malone was the best center I ever saw. I need to qualify that because I also saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar toward the latter half of his career and grew up with Hakeem Olajuwon from the time he was a freshman member of Phi Slamma Jamma. Then there’s Shaq, who is only a few years older than me. I was too late for Kareem, too early to fully appreciate Dream and couldn’t shake the idea that Shaq was basically my own damn age. Moses came along at just the right time.
I have no sports memories prior to 1980 and then my family moved and our life changed suddenly. Perhaps that’s why certain players from that time are permanently frozen in my brain: Herschel Walker, Mike Schmidt, the Miracle on Ice and Moses Malone. That was also the year that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came into the NBA, but both players had a learning curve. As far as I was concerned, Moses was it. He was unstoppable.
He had already won one MVP award and he added his second in 1982, the year after taking an undermanned Rockets team to the NBA Finals. Then he was traded to Philly where he averaged 24 points and 15 rebounds en route to yet another MVP award for a team that already had Julius Erving, Moe Cheeks and a healthy Andrew Toney. It was unfair, really.
- Lakers Lounge Podcast: Discussing the Celtics and the Lakers rebuilds, all-time greats from Anthony F. Irwin of Silver Screen and Roll
- Lakers sign underrated center Robert Upshaw; roster climbs to 18 by Eric Pincus of the LA Times
- Former Laker Steve Nash joining Warriors Coaching Staff from CBS Los Angeles
- Lakers Coach Byron Scott Makes Himself at Home in Hermosa Beach by Neil J. Leitereg of the LA Times