While the young Los Angeles Lakers have been able to gain a ton of experience throughout this season so far, they also had veterans to rely on. In particular, when Luke Walton’s team would get to crunch time everyone tended to defer to Lou Williams.
In fairness, Williams was the leading scorer on the team and one of the better shot creators in the entire NBA. Unfortunately it also deprives the young guys like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson consistent opportunities to handle that kind of pressure.
Now Williams is gone to Houston and the young core no longer has that safety net under them. But that’s a good thing if you ask Walton.
“I look at is as a big opportunity because the only way you learn how to do something is to get out there and experience it, most likely fail, and realize that if you do fail, it is fine, it just means you get back in the gym and work on it even more. Then you get more comfortable in those situations but it is a challenge. It is fun to watch those guys out there trying to get to that next level.”
The Lakers came up short against the Hornets on Tuesday night, but there were some promising signs down the stretch. Randle, Clarkson, and Russell all had their moments in the fourth quarter, but the team’s failures on defense and the glass ultimately did them in.
As Walton points out, most young players are going to fail in these situations early on, but it’s important not to put your head down, but rather get up and get back to work. Hopefully as this season winds down, these young Lakers will begin making those couple of plays that will put them over the top in the end.
In Russell, Randle, Clarkson, and Ingram the Lakers have guys who can get their own shots when they want to. When the game is on the line, someone has to step up and want the ball. It will be interesting to see who becomes that player on this team.