With the signing of LeBron James this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers have gone from a young team focused on improving, to a team that nearly everyone expects to end the team’s record playoff drought. That puts a lot of extra pressure on young head coach Luke Walton.
There is no doubt that any team with James has certain expectations, but exactly what the Lakers’ are is unclear. Nonetheless, the playoffs are on the mind of just about everyone. That is, except for Walton and his team.
“We are so far from the playoffs. We’re not talking about the playoffs at all,” he said. “Like, we’re just talking about the habits that we need to do now, the habits we need to build to have a chance to have some success at the end of the year.”
As the early preseason games have shown, the Lakers have plenty they still need to work on, figure out, and improve if they want to be a true contender in a stacked Western Conference.
That won’t stop the expectations from the outside coming in, but Walton is focused on managing those. “We manage it by focusing on getting better,” Walton explained. “We know what we want to be doing at the end of the season and we know the only way to get there is to work really hard and stay focused in the moment.”
The road to the playoffs will be a difficult one for the Lakers, especially as they look to develop chemistry between their returning young players and the veterans they brought in this summer such as James, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo. In the end, Walton knows exactly what he wants his team to focus on.
“Part of what we talk about is turning that noise off and not listening to all of that,” he said. “Where we’re at is, we’re going to come in each day and work at the things we need to get better at and take it day by day.”