Luke Walton was hired as Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason of 2016 after spending half a season as the interim head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Walton temporarily replaced Steve Kerr due to recovery from a back surgery.
The Warriors, in their 43 games under Walton, went 39-4 en route to the second-greatest start to a season in NBA history. This made Walton a prime candidate for the Lakers coaching position, and it was assumed that he would be the coach to get the Lakers through the rest of their rebuilding process.
Now, with the roster boasting LeBron James and several talented young players, Walton is not only coaching a far better team than the ones he had his first two years, he’s also faced his most scrutiny. Overall, though, Walton has done a good job for the Lakers, being one of the NBA’s best defensive coaches, and he believes it all started with the Warriors.
“Not even interim as much as just seeing what a healthy culture looks like,” Walton said. “Being there the first year Steve got there and seeing how he built that culture up, I saw the importance and value of having that type of environment around.”
The Lakers have always had a winning culture, but it was partially taken away by questionable moves made by the previous front office regime. But the implementation of Walton, Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, and now, James, has seemed to change some things, which Walton is fully aware of.
“As far as coaching LeBron, being around those, playing alongside Kobe and Shaq, that all plays somewhat of a role,” he added. “LeBron has been incredible to coach. He’s fun to talk basketball with, he’s an unselfish superstar, he allows you to have an opportunity to win every night. He’s been great.”
If Walton and James can help to instill a winning mentality into the young core, the Lakers has already shown what they’re capable of when they’re healthy.
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