With only 11 games remaining this season and the Los Angeles Lakers far out of playoff contention, it can be difficult for head coach Luke Walton to keep his team motivated. Despite their record however, Walton understands the importance of this final stretch.
Walton has been on both sides of the coin, as a playoff contender and a team whose season is set to end. According to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, Walton believes his team needs to build momentum heading into the offseason:
“When you’re on a playoff team, it’s about getting sharp. Your messaging and reasoning for coming to those games is really locking in and getting your game to where it needs to be to start the playoffs. That’s obviously not the purpose and reasoning we have right now,” Walton said. “For us, it’s all about building momentum into the offseason. We want to end on a positive note. We want to be excited to go into the offseason and work and everyone gets better.”
Walton’s reasoning is understandable. If the Lakers play well and possibly even when a couple of games down the stretch of the season it could give his young players confidence heading into an extremely important offseason. If they see that they are improving and getting closer to their goal of contention, it will only make them work harder over the summer.
The fate of the Lakers draft pick depends on the Lakers losing as much as possible of course, but that isn’t Walton or the players’ job to worry about that as their job is to go out and win games. Regardless, this upcoming offseason will be very important for the future of the franchise.
These final games basically serve as an audition for a lot of players on this roster, which should be motivation enough. But for Walton, the possibility of gaining momentum, and his players pushing even harder this summer, is something that he wants to take advantage of.