When Luke Walton led the Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 record while head coach Steve Kerr recovered from surgery, most everyone knew it was only a matter of time before Walton was in control of his own team.
Even while Walton was a player, many saw coaching in his future, including Kobe Bryant, who praised him for his great basketball mind. In fact, Kobe apparently already believes that Walton is one of the top coaches in the league before he has even officially coached a game.
“I’m beyond happy,” Russell said. “I’ve heard so much about him. Kobe [Bryant] even said Luke is one of the top two coaches in this league in this day and age. I’m just looking forward to being coached and pushed.”
It is great to see Russell so excited about Walton and that seems to be the prevailing theme amongst all of the Lakers’ young guys. Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle have both spoken about looking forward to Walton taking over as well.
Kobe calling Walton one of the two best coaches in the league shows how much Kobe believes that he will be successful, and Bryant isn’t known to be somehow who passes out praise to those who don’t deserve it. Bryant’s endorsement, as well as Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak’s, means that expectations for Walton will be high coming into his first head coaching job.
Putting him on the level of the likes of Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, or Steve Kerr may be a bit premature, but the potential seems to be there. If the Lakers are fortunate, Walton will bring success back to the franchise.