The Los Angeles Lakers have started off better than anyone could have predicted, navigating a difficult early-season schedule to come out of the gates above .500 at 4-3. Head coach Luke Walton is trying to keep expectations in check despite the success.
In an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Walton spoke about focusing on the things the Lakers still need to improve rather than the good things the Lakers have already done:
“You bring up (those early) numbers and I’m thinking, ‘All right, well we’re still giving up 108 points a game and we’re in the bottom of the league in turnovers and free throws,’” Walton told USA TODAY Sports. “So these are the numbers I’m looking at, because these are the numbers that we need to still fix.”
Walton also noted that it could be a little harder to get his young Lakers to focus on those things while they’re winning:
“The challenging part of it is that when you keep losing, it’s easy to point to these things and say, ‘We have to do this better.’ But you win a couple games as a team, and then you harp on your guys about doing the little things better, and it normally doesn’t hit home as hard”
Walton has a point as it can be tough for young teams who haven’t experienced success to want to focus on other things they can improve on. Whatever is happening is working and sometimes it takes some losses for a team to realize that they aren’t quite where they need to be.
The Lakers are currently dead last in the league in turnovers, 26th in free throws allowed, and 28th in field goal percentage allowed and Walton knows that the Lakers success can’t be sustained without improvement in these areas. It is his knowledge of these things, and determination to fix them that shows why he is the right coach for this team.