One of the major reasons for the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent struggles has been the fact that they have been on the road a lot this season. Luke Walton’s squad has played 20 road games already this season, more than any other team in the NBA.
Most young players and teams tend to play better at home than on the road so the Lakers’ road heavy schedule was not ideal for the success of this team.
Walton understands what it takes to be successful on the road and spoke about it in an interview with Basketball Insiders’ Cody Taylor:
“It touches on being able to be mentally tough enough to be on the road when the other team’s crowd is getting loud and they have momentum being able to stay within what we do and execute plays and get to the free throw line or continue to play a certain way as opposed to coming in and making the hero shot,” Walton said. “It comes with playing years together and being familiar with the staff and what not.”
Mental toughness is something that has come up recently in discussing these Lakers. Walton has spoken about developing that through this rough stretch that the Lakers are going through right now. General Manager Mitch Kupchak has even mentioned that he wants the team to play harder on a consistent basis.
The Lakers have a lot of growing to do overall. The team is full of talent, but the intangibles are lacking right now. As Walton pointed out, it takes mental fortitude to stay with the game plan when things aren’t going your way, and these Lakers have too often turned to individual play.
At the end of the day this is a young team and these things take time. The hope is that they grow from all of this, and eventually become one of the league’s elite.