Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have found their next head coach in Luke Walton, the task of returning the franchise to glory begins. Though many are focused on the talent the Lakers can bring in through the draft or free agency, the team has a talented young core already led by D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.
Both Russell and Randle showed flashes of greatness throughout the season despite constant changes to their minutes and role, while Clarkson was one of the more consistent players on the roster this season, ranking second on the team in scoring.
This young group is great to inherit for a new, young coach and Walton noted that he is excited about the pieces the Lakers have in place via Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times:
Walton: "I think they have some young, talented players. Obviously you need to mix in some vets. I'm excited about the pieces they have."
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) April 30, 2016
Of those young guys, most consider Russell and Randle to have the highest upside and according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Walton believes Russell and Randle have All-Star talent:
Walton believes that lottery picks D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle have the talent to be future All-Stars, but they’re each just coming off uneven rookie seasons so any projection at this point is just a projection.
If the Lakers do make a quick turnaround as is their hope, it will have as much to do with internal growth from their players as anyone they would bring in via free agency or the draft. Russell and Randle in particular have been viewed as the high upside players, but both have a long ways to go before reaching that potential.
As Walton noted, the Lakers will need to add some veteran players in order to help the young guys grow. The Lakers are expected to be active in free agency and could also make some trades. The Lakers have said they want their head coach to be a ‘recruiter-in-chief’ so Walton’s selling skills will be put to the test early on in his tenure.