On Friday morning, veterans like Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake joined youngsters such as Darius Morris and Darius Johnson-Odom for a full court scrimmage.
We took some notes:
- Metta World Peace is in absolute peak shape. Much was made last season about how MWP came in out of shape and didn’t find himself until halfway through the season due in part to injuries he wasn’t able to treat during the lockout. But he says he’s 15 pounds lighter than he was last fall, and from watching him play, he’s not lying. We interviewed Antawn Jamison after the scrimmage, and he couldn’t stop raving about how great MWP looks and is playing. With attention focused on Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, this could spell trouble for opponents.
- Speaking of Antawn Jamison, you can see almost immediately why he’s averaged 19.5 points per game for his career. The guy just has a knack for the bucket, whether it’s utilizing his unique array of floaters and leaners, or finding the space in the half court to get himself open for a jumper. He told us how excited he is about the team vibe he’s already feeling, with new/hungry blood from himself, Nash, Howard and Jodie Meeks* joining the likes of Bryant with a championship in mind. Jamison can’t stop smiling as he walks around the facility.
*Meeks was also in the building, but did not scrimmage.
- Steve Blake looked good for the Lakers late last season and in the playoffs, earning many of the crunch time minutes over Ramon Sessions, and earning the trust of his coaches and teammates in the process. Several assistant coaches mentioned how consistent Blake has been in workouts this summer, and noted that he played for Eddie Jordan his first two seasons in the league for Washington. That he and Jamison are familiar with Jordan’s system is a nice benefit for the Lakers.
- Darius Morris has improved his jumper over the summer, not to mention his physique, thanks to leading all Lakers in time spent at the team’s facility. His hard work looks to be paying off so far, with the test to come in training camp when he’s matched up against Nash or Blake.
- Jordan Hill looked very good in the scrimmage. While watching him dunk, rebound and even hit some face up jumpers, assistant coach Darvin Ham said he expects Hill to have a fantastic year off L.A.’s bench, backing up Howard and Gasol with his constant energy and activity at both ends that earned him playoff minutes last season.
- Darius Johnson-Odom was described by one coach as “bouncy,” and you’ll agree when watching video of the scrimmage. The rookie was flying all over the court, even treating us to a version of J.R. Rider’s “Eastbay Funk” afterwards. DJO is the type of player that plays better when those around him are better (Las Vegas Summer League wasn’t his type of atmosphere), and his defense and athleticism stood out in the run.
- Derek Fisher, a free agent, was in the building to work on his game, permission granted by GM Mitch Kupchak. Fisher is of course not on the roster, but it’s not uncommon for free agents or players on different rosters* to play at other team’s facilities before camp starts.
*Thunder guard Lazar Hayward was also in mix, often chatting up his college teammate at Marquette DJO.
- Big men Robert Sacre and Jeff Somogyi showed themselves capable of playing with the more experienced bigs on L.A.’s roster, and will have a chance to show what they can do in training camp. Each 7-footer did some scoring, some boarding and some blocking in the scrimmage. Making the roster isn’t going to be easy for any of the younger players, but the opportunity will be there.