The vibe around the Los Angeles Lakers is completely different this season. Byron Scott is no longer the head coach of the team, and Kobe Bryant has played his last games in the purple and gold.
The focus now shifts to the team’s young nucleus and rookie head coach Luke Walton, who two games into the season has already changed the culture in Los Angeles.
The Lakers won their season opener at home against the Houston Rockets, and then in their second game they competed against a much improved Utah Jazz team on the road, although they ultimately lost the game.
According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, Lakers second-year forward Larry Nance Jr. believes that the team is playing for each other:
Larry Nance Jr. said Lakers are now playing "for one another" and called it the right way to play.
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) October 29, 2016
With so many young players playing significant minutes, the Lakers currently have to spread the ball around as they no longer have a player like Bryant that can single-handedly take a game over.
In the season opener against the Rockets, seven Lakers scored at least seven points, and 12 different players got a chance to play in the game. It was much of the same against Utah as Lou Williams led the team in scoring with 17 points, and eight different Lakers scored seven points or more while 11 players got into the game.
Second-year point guard D’Angelo Russell also recently commented on how the team is playing well together without Bryant, stating that he can play with more freedom.
The team’s chemistry is being put to the test early this season, as after their season opener they went on the road for a four-game trip all against playoff caliber teams before returning home to host the Golden State Warriors.