After watching superstar guard Kobe Bryant ride off into the sunset last season, the Los Angeles Lakers have clearly entered a rebuilding period. The team is stocked with young talent like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., and Jordan Clarkson, hoping that their development will pave the way to a brighter future. Even their head coach, Luke Walton, is the youngest in the league.
However, all of that youth often leads to mistakes, and those mistakes have caused the Lakers to lose a number of winnable games this season. In particular, their habit of losing large leads has been frustrating, and veteran guard Lou Williams believes that it it’s time to stop using their youth as an excuse for not performing on the court (via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times):
“It definitely can improve right now,” Williams said. “I don’t want to keep using the young team thing. At some point, we gotta show growth collectively as a group. Obviously, we do have young guys and we’re depending on some young guys that’s learning on the fly, so some of these things, like sharing the ball, that should be second nature at this point.”
The Lakers began the season red-hot and shocked the league by winning 10 of their first 20 games. However, they have struggled since, winning just five of the next 25 contests. A number of young players have shown individual improvement, but as Williams notes, they haven’t managed to improve as much collectively. Walton acknowledged that the process can take time:
“Down the stretch, we’re playing teenagers and 20-year-olds and 21-year-olds and this is a grown man’s league,” Coach Luke Walton said. “Are we good enough to win? Absolutely we are. But it takes making mistakes. There’s no formula that tells you this is exactly when it happens.”
The team’s struggles can be frustrating, but they are determined to keep plugging away until they get it right. In the long run, these speed bumps will pay off as the Lakers hope to build their post-Kobe future.