The Los Angeles Lakers have two remaining preseason games before the new era of basketball begins. Under the watch of head coach Luke Walton, the roster is dwindling down and preparing for the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season.
With two cuts yet to be determined, Walton must decide which players provide the best opportunity for this team to succeed and grow, in order to reach their full potential.
The outlook for Lakers basketball has grown tremendously over one season, with one addition changing the mindset of the entire organization. It was last season when Byron Scott and his old school principles led the Lakers to a franchise-worst 17-65 record.
Although the full blame can’t be placed on Scott, his coaching methods seem to appear outdated and ineffective. His clashing relationship with rookie D’Angelo Russell stunted his growth during his rookie season, including being benched and constantly changing Russell’s role with the team.
Russell now finds himself in a fitting scenario, with a coach who understands his skill set and can relate to him on a growing level. The rest of the roster has also marveled at the beginning stages of Walton’s tenure, as his updated style of coaching has the younger roster anxious to begin.
Even Metta World Peace, a 16-year NBA veteran, is impressed thus far by what Walton has been able to do. In an interview with BelieveTheHypeNBA.com, he gave insight into the biggest difference between Scott and Walton:
What’s been the biggest difference between last year and this year?
A new coach. Any time you get a new staff there’s new principals, unless the coaches came from the same type pedigree. But it’s two different styles. Two TOTALLY different styles.
While World Peace remains a borderline roster player, he continually brings that energy and enthusiasm to play that has captivated his lengthy career. The one-time champion was excited to join the Lakers and will continue competing until the end of his career.
It is no secret the Lakers offensive sets will be drastically different from the 2015-16 season. While Scott ran a slower, old-school type of offense, Walton brings in a scheme updated to the evolving NBA.
During his time with the Golden State Warriors, Walton learned from head coach Steve Kerr about the proper way to execute the offense in order to maximize the potential of each player.
With the NBA heading towards a spaced, up-tempo style of play, the NBA, and their evolving positions need to accommodate towards aspects such as a stretch-four.
Although the fluidity of the offense will not be there at first, the Lakers roster understands it will click over a period of time. It is up to the roster to go all-in with these new sets so that they can reap the benefits that Walton has in store.
The players have been exposed to certain instances of that success and appreciate the excitement Walton continually brings towards such aspects in practice.