One of the biggest storylines in the NBA this season has been the unpredicted emergence of the Los Angeles Lakers. While Kevin Durant’s decision to join Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors swept the offseason, the steady production from Walton during his rookie season as coach has been captivating.
The Lakers faced off in back-to-back games against the Warriors on Wednesday and Friday, losing both contests by over 20 points. The team was clearly undermanned, as D’Angelo Russell missed both games, while Nick Young and Julius Randle sat out Friday’s matchup at the Staples Center.
After the Lakers and Warriors had concluded their contest on Friday, Kerr stated that the early success this season for the Lakers isn’t a surprise to him, via Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
“I don’t think I am surprised, to be honest with you. I like their young talent,” Kerr said before the game Friday. “I know Luke really well. I knew the atmosphere there would be fantastic. He’s an incredible human being and somebody that players are always going to want to play for. The talent is starting to show through.”
Walton’s first coaching experience in the NBA came with the Warriors, as he embarked on a two-year period like none the NBA has seen. After winning the NBA championship, Walton took the lead of the head coaching duties and led the Warriors to a 24-0 start. He remained an integral part of the staff, as the Warriors set the regular season record with 73 victories.
17 games into the season against premier competition, the Lakers have a record of 8-9. With tough contests and stepping-stones early into the season, Walton has his team optimistic and ready to take the next step.
During the NBA offseason, Walton admitted the only job that could have deterred him from remaining with the Warriors was the one he was presented; the 26th head coach in Lakers’ franchise history.
He has implemented many ideals from his days with the Warriors, as their offensive execution seems to be the lead principle in the evolving NBA. When Kerr was asked if any banter remains between he and Walton, he stated that the trash talking never ceases to exist:
“Luke [and I] are like talking trash to each other, for fun, like every day,” Kerr said. “It might be about basketball, it might be about something else.”
Kerr and Walton have both executed ideals from the likes of Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson, who have paved the way for them. As Kerr enters his third season with the Warriors’ organization, Walton continues to enjoy his rookie campaign with the most historic franchise in NBA history.
The Lakers gear up for their Sunday showdown at Staples Center against the Atlanta Hawks. In their first matchup this season, the Lakers captured a 123-116 road win in an impressive comeback victory.