When the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization signed Luke Walton as the 26th head coach in franchise history, they understood his basketball IQ and his resume of success. Coming from the Golden State Warriors, Walton was exposed to championship level basketball, while learning from Steve Kerr.
The family tree of basketball coaching extended from Walton and Kerr to Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson, as Walton has had both their ideals implemented into his coaching philosophy.
As the NBA continues to evolve into the up-tempo, three-point reliant league, spacing and execution become even more critical. The days of stagnant, one-on-one basketball are becoming obsolete unless you obtain the dominance of LeBron James, James Harden or Russell Westbrook.
Screen setting has become an emerging trend in basketball, with off-ball screens being more relevant. The offense of the Warriors was instilled upon off-ball screens for their shooters, while constant ball rotation and movement on the floor created multiple options in half-court sets.
Walton has taken these ideals and placed them upon his young core, who are eager to evolve their own game and take the next step towards success.
When talking about what constitutes the right amount of ball rotation, Walton stated a simple principle to stick by, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
The number of passes Luke Walton wants each game is 300. It's what they used in Golden State, has been working for the Lakers this year.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 15, 2016
While the starting unit has shown they can keep up with a team on any given night, Walton stated that the unselfish play of the bench unit has been the catalyst.
With scorers Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson facilitating the second unit, the bench has taken a hustling persona, attempting to capitalize on each play. The constant ball movement is encouraged by Walton, as you can see him consistently praising his team on executing a play to perfection.
As D’Angelo Russell continues to acclimate himself to the rigors of playing point guard in the NBA, Walton wants him to find a comfortable balance between scoring and play-making.
300 passes per game shouldn’t be a goal the Lakers set out to accomplish, but rather a byproduct from running the motion style offense and not settling for selfish basketball.