Although the Los Angeles Lakers dealt with an underwhelming middle portion of the season, they bookended the regular season with consistent play on both ends of the floor. Guided by head coach Luke Walton, the young core learned from their losses and turned their mistakes into positives.
It is easy to forget that the young core of the Lakers are still battling through their first years in the NBA, learning to adjust to the playing style of the NBA. Players like Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac, who were learning the ropes in October, found themselves in prominent roles towards the end of the season.
The young core must remain open to learning and hearing constructive criticism, trusting those that have paved the way for them. Veterans, such as midseason acquisition Corey Brewer, play a significant part in their development. The 10-year veteran understood his role when he was acquired by the Lakers, serving as a template for what the young core should model themselves after.
Brewer’s hustle and constant aggressive mentality on both ends of the floor should be instilled into this young team, while also holding Brewer’s team-first approach. With the season now officially over, Brewer stated during his exit interview that he is pleased with their growth and that this summer is a major checkpoint in terms of their growth towards stardom, via the Lakers Twitter account:
Brewer on the young players: "They're good. They can really play; they're just young. … This summer's gonna be a big summer for them."
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 13, 2017
In early March, Brewer alluded to how the Lakers need to learn how to handle adversity, pointing out the multiple close losses the team dealt with that month. However, the Lakers rode the wave, emerging with some positive signs in some nail-biters in April.
Both Ingram and Zubac are slated to join the Lakers’ Summer League team, with the NBA experience that can hopefully lead to dominant performances. Although Walton won’t be coaching the Summer League team, he will be watching from an outside perspective, to monitor their growth during the offseason.