Luke Walton has coached the Los Angeles Lakers to play some fairly solid basketball to start the season. The team is 3-4 so far, playing at an almost .500 clip that is too early to call sustainable, but impressive nonetheless.
More impressive than the Lakers’ record, though, is how they’ve compiled it. The team has been not just “average” or “not terrible” defensively, but actually downright good, boasting the ninth-best defensive efficiency in the league while holding teams to 100 points per 100 possessions.
After the team’s victory over the Detroit Pistons, Walton spoke about why he felt the team has been able to have that type of success so far.
“It all starts with effort and caring about wanting to get better,” Walton said in his postgame press conference. “I have been saying our guys really have both of those traits as far as a group and individuals. It is not easy to play like that. I really think as part of this process of growing and the journey that we are on, you have to learn to really embrace and enjoy how hard it is to play like that. If you look at it like ‘we gotta go out and play that hard’ as a chore almost then you can’t go out and do it consistently.”
Walton was hesitant to declare his inexperienced roster could always play as well as they did in their victory over Detroit, but the game and games like it still leave him optimistic about the Lakers’ future.
“I don’t think we are going to play that great every night, obviously. That was really nice as far as putting all of that stuff together for, not 48 minutes but most of the game. It shows our team is capable of being a very good basketball team when we are really playing together and playing for each other and playing hard.”
The Lakers are a young team, and young teams don’t win at a .500 pace the whole season.
Still, the Lakers’ season was always about showing progress and building winning habits more so than any playoff berth, both of which they’ve done in spades. Walton is right to feel optimistic, even if the consistency it’s led to so far won’t always be possible to display.
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