Last season, head coach Luke Walton pushed hard to establish an identity with the Los Angeles Lakers of defensive intensity and selfless, ball-movement basketball on offense. With the addition of LeBron James to the team this summer, Walton sees that as even more important to the success of the Lakers.
As opposed to surrounding James with shooters, which has been the plan for his teams in yaers past, the Lakers instead surrounded him with other playmakers in order to relieve some of the pressure on James to create for everyone.
Now it’s on Walton to relay that message of selflessness to his team. In the “Connected With…Luke Walton” episode on Spectrum SportsNet, he spoke about the importance of the Lakers playing for each other as opposed to trying to go one-on-one:
“That’s when we’re going to be at our best. We have a lot of really good players. It can’t be, it won’t be, taking turns going 1-on-1; we like your matchup, we like that matchup. It’s going to be an attack in waves as a group, making plays for each other. When it’s appropriate, when the time’s appropriate, that’s when we’ll take advantage of what we feel are mismatches in our favor.”
With the likes James, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma among others, the Lakers have a number of players capable of getting their own shots. However, if they are able to use those skills to break down the defense in order to create for others, it will result in easy looks for everyone.
That is the mindset Walton wants on this team. Walton has already done a tremendous job establishing that culture as the Lakers ranked seventh in the NBA in assists last season. Now he plans on building on that foundation to ensure L.A. reaches their potential and becomes a force this season.