The Los Angeles Lakers have gone from a better than expected start to the 2016-17 NBA season at 10-10 to arguably one of the worst teams in the league once again 50 games in. Although new head coach Luke Walton has shown signs of a potentially bright future calling the shots for the storied franchise, some have begun to wonder what the real ceiling is for the team the way it is currently constructed.
Longtime Lakers general manager, Mitch Kupchak, recently spoke with NBA.com’s David Aldridge in a wide-ranging interview about the state of the Lakers franchise. Aldridge asked the 62-year-old general manager about a number of different things about the team, including what progress he’s seen this season.
Kupchak admitted the Lakers’ hot start was a bit misleading, but the future remains bright in Los Angeles:
Well, I think the start of the season fueled our hopes for something that I don’t think was expected. We were 10-10, and I think we went on a long road trip and we had three or four injuries. I think that’s part of the league, road trips and injuries. We didn’t adjust that well to it. And we went through a period where it was kind of tough to win a game. And we lost our mojo, so to speak. And it’s been difficult to get it back. That’s kind of where we are today, based on wins and losses. Putting that aside, we’re incredibly excited about our future. I think we’ve got six or seven young players that I think all have a great future in front of them. And we have a mix of older veterans that I think are going to help our young guys mature and make progress. We’re very excited about the future, and the development of the young players on this team.
Despite the Lakers heading toward another losing season and missing the NBA playoffs for the fourth year in a row, Kupchak sees the light at the end of the tunnel. The promising young players on the squad seem to have kept him optimistic about the future, and he may be right in his assessment with Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle all showing glimpses of their potential this season.
Only time will tell if the Lakers’ future is as promising as he hopes with this young core still needing a lot of polish to realize its true potential under Walton.