Coaching Carousel: Los Angeles Lakers
Who said Merry-Go-Rounds can’t be fun for adults? Well if you’re an NBA coach it might not be, but for us at Off The Glass they sure are. Let’s take a look at who's new and who’s through in this year’s coaching carousel.
Los Angeles Lakers
*Photo via Slam
Out With The Old: Byron Scott – 2nd Year: 17-65 / 454 - 647 Career
In With The New: Luke Walton - 1 year (Golden State Warriors) 39-4
What Happened: Two years of not cracking 25 wins was enough to do in veteran coach Byron Scott with the Lakers recording 17 wins in 2016, the worst in the history of the storied franchise. While young prospects like Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell showed some upside, the team's overall lack of talent combined with all you can eat buffet of bad jumpers that were served on the Kobe retirement tour were too much to overcome. While not all Scott’s fault, the team decided a fresh face might be a good idea.
What Could Happen: The Lakers are taking a big gamble with the hiring of Walton, who had an amazing record in a small sample size with the most successful regular season team ever. Apparently L.A thought enough of this run, combined with the hoops IQ he showed in his own career to hand him the keys. Being the son of one of the most interesting and skilled players ever, probably doesn’t hurt either.
The Lakers roster is primed with young talent, especially with the addition of Brandon Ingram, a player who is already drawing comparisons of a guy the team lusted for this offseason in Kevin Durant. In addition, former lotto picks Randle and Russel provide enough potential for this team to be good in a few years. The biggest test for the young coach will be to experiment and find if and how these blue chips can be made into a playoff jackpot.
Ingram’s perimeter oriented game and defensive ability compliment Randle, a bull down low, whose contributions are on the glass and low post. Russel and Jordan Clarkson, the other young Laker guards bring similar things to the table, but one would think a smart coach could find a way to optimize the young talent. Los Angeles also made smart moves in bringing veterans like Luol Deng and Jose Calderon, who in theory can help steer the youth movement in the right direction. While not the GM, if I was Walton I might see if the team can move aging gunners Nick Young and Lou Williams, two guys who sure don’t scream “I want to help young players build good habits.” The 2016-2017 will be all about seeing what they actually have.
Prediction: 27-55 - Walton’s career as a crafty player intrigues me more than his brief stint with a stacked team. I think he finds a way to allow the young core to develop alongside the vets, but would not be surprised if one piece doesn’t fit and is traded. This team will be better than last year and have brighter days ahead, but still very far from the dominance of a decade ago.