Training camp for the 2023-24 NBA season is slowly but surely approaching, and while there is plenty of time before it begins, it’s time for players to start ramping up their training and preparation.
That’s especially true for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are hoping to win their 18th world championship next summer. They magically remade what was a broken roster in January and February, and now they’re aiming for the sky rather than just trying to tread water.
The Lakers signed free agent center Jaxson Hayes a few weeks ago, and the hope is that he will supply them with athleticism, energy and defense. They reportedly have some big plans for him, and working on these three things could result in those plans being a success.
Consistent shot-blocking and rim protection
In his four NBA seasons, Hayes has shown the ability to swat shots. He has an average of 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes for his career, and Lakers head coach Darvin Ham demands that everyone on the floor give 100 percent on the defensive end.
Some feel Hayes has been inconsistent with his focus and productivity. For him to succeed with L.A., he will need to be a consistent force in the paint on the defensive end.
Despite standing 6-foot-11, Hayes averages just 8.6 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career, which is certainly very solid, but not great.
Over the last couple of years, the Lakers have had issues with securing defensive rebounds. Hayes will need to consistently box out and put his body on opponents in or near the paint so that either he or a teammate will end up getting defensive boards consistently.
Doing so will spark the Lakers’ opportunistic offense.
Run the floor
The Lakers are a fast-breaking team, and Hayes could end up getting plenty of easy baskets if he sprints downcourt on every possession as much as possible.
He is fairly fleet-footed, and he can jump fairly high and finish strong at the rim. If he commits to rim running, LeBron James will love to fling the ball downcourt like a quarterback and get him easy buckets either on the break or before the other team can simply fully set up its defense.