This season the Los Angeles Lakers jumped from 26 to 35 wins, quickly becoming one of the NBA’s most promising young teams. Excellent campaigns from the likes of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Kyle Kuzma contributed, as did head coach Luke Walton’s ability to get everyone to buy into his philosophy.
Ever since becoming head coach, Walton has always spoken about establishing a specific culture and identity within the Lakers. This season was the first where it was evident that the team as a whole bought in, and the results showed.
One person who definitely sees the value of that is Randle. He appeared on “The Woj Pod with Adrian Wojnarowski” and spoke about the importance of a team having a culture and identity, which he will consider when signing a new contract this summer:
“You look at the teams who are in the Conference Finals right now, Boston has an identity and culture. Houston, Cleveland, Golden State, those teams have a culture that makes them successful. I feel the reason we had success was because we bought into how we want to play every night. I feel like identity and culture and direction are really important. I feel like if you get players to buy into that, then everybody has success because then you know what you’re working for and how you fit in with that.”
As far as what the Lakers identity is, Randle made it clear that their focus lies on defense and pace:
“We knew every night our culture was, we wanted to be top-10 in the league in defense. That was a personal challenge. We, I guess you could say pillars: individual help, rebound, whatever it is. You had three pillars. So we knew we wanted to be top-10 defensively in the league. Then we knew we wanted to [play at] the fastest place in the league. You have those two things, you pound those things in every day, you work on those things.”
The Lakers didn’t quite reach their goals as they finished 12th in the NBA in defensive rating and third in pace. Nonetheless, as Randle pointed out, the fact that the entire team bought into those things led to success for everyone individually and as a group.
The question for Randle now is whether he will continue to build with the Lakers. He is a restricted free agent with some expected suitors already on the horizon, but what ultimately happens in free agency is anyone’s guess.
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