Luke Walton Is the Lakers Biggest Surprise
Luke Walton began his coaching career going 39-4. He did this with the Golden State Warriors while filling in for the recovering Steve Kerr. This was an amazing run for Walton and the Warriors , including 19-0 start to the season. But in the back of a lot of people’s minds, this success was was because of the Warriors’ talent, not Walton’s coaching.
The Los Angeles Lakers on the other hand, believed in Walton and took a chance on him this offseason. That gamble seems to be paying off. Walton's fun approach to basketball is a strict contrast to the tough love approach of previous coach Byron Scott. Walton has changed the mentality of the Lakers, and seems to relate to the young roster much more. The most surprising thing this year though, is how early the Lakers bought into the young first time coach.
Most pro coaches have a hard time getting athletes that make much more money than them to buy into what they want the team to do. Walton is an exception to this. The Lakers seem to have bought into Luke 100%, as they break the huddles screaming “I love basketball”. There’s no longer the toxic environment around the team, and the team seems to be getting along a lot better.
The Lakers have already won three straight games this season, including a blowout over the Golden State Warriors Los Angeles. The team is currently 6-5 and has look a lot better than most expected. Last season’s team didn’t get their 6th win until late December.
One player that has specifically bought into Luke Walton the most is D’Angelo Russell. It’s no secret with all of the off the court issues that Russell had, that him and Byron Scott did not get along well. Scott seemed to always have an issue with Russell.
Russell seems to be having fun again under Walton, and the stats are showing that. He’s embraced being a leader and is averaging 16.2 ppg and 4.8 apg. Another player that seems to have benefited from the new system is Julius Randle. Randle is an athletic big man that is a matchup nightmare running up and down the court. He’s averaging 13.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG.
It’s almost cliché to keep saying the word “fun”, but that is what keeps coming to mind watching the Lakers. They are amongst the top of the league in points scored, and are letting the ball fly with no caution and making the extra pass, much like the Golden State Warriors do.
As with any young team, they will need to improve in places such as turnovers , but Luke Walton has the Lakers playing hard and doing the things that help out a young team, like hitting their free throws . It’s little things like free throw shooting and making extra passes that could really help a young team succeed. They still don’t have that superstar that can completely take over the game quiet yet. However, if they keep buying into Luke Walton’s scheme, they could find themselves battling for a playoff spot for a team that was picked 2nd to last in most projections.