The Los Angeles Lakers made a big move this summer when they didn’t renew the contract of head coach Byron Scott and replaced him with 36-year-old Luke Walton, who had spent the previous two seasons as Steve Kerr‘s right-hand-man with the Golden State Warriors. The hope is that Walton will bring some of the offensive creativity that the Warriors have become known for, as well as the defensive tenacity.
These Lakers, of course, are not the Warriors. While Golden State currently features an embarrassment of riches with superstars like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and now Kevin Durant on their roster, the Lakers find themselves rebuilding around young players who aren’t quite ready to win now.
Still, Walton hopes to instill a new culture in Los Angeles, one that will allow him to eventually restore the Lakers to their former glory. In an interview with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Walton talked about focusing on how his team plays the game rather than whether they win or lose:
“Are we competing? Are we playing for each other? Are we selfless? Is the ball moving? If we feel like we’re playing with those intentions and that effort, that to me is a successful season.”
Given the Lakers roster, Walton is right to focus on the journey rather than the outcome at this point. He is hoping to create a fun team environment, which is a far cry from the no-nonsense approach of Scott. Walton believes that his approach has led to more players coming in early to train:
“We’ve started building relationships with our players. I think that’s a big key to coaching. We’ve made it a fun and enjoyable place for them to come to work out, train and get better. I think that’s a big reason why, even though it’s optional, a lot of the guys are coming in.”
It’s going to be some time before we can truly assess whether or not Walton’s methods will ultimately get results, but all early indications suggest that he is on the right track. The Lakers may not win a lot next season, but there definitely seems to be a positive atmosphere around the young team.