The Los Angeles Lakers have officially been eliminated from playoff contention, but it has long been known that they would not be among the top-8 in the Western Conference. As such, the remainder of this season has been mainly about the development of the young players on Luke Walton’s squad.
Tuesday night’s 133-109 embarrassment at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers did not do a good job of showing off any possible development of this young team.
Players have certainly gotten better over the course of the season, but Walton understands that individual improvement doesn’t automatically mean a better team.
“To me there has been a lot of individual improvement. What we have to understand as a team is that until the team means more than the individual, it’s going to be really hard to win. I think our guys understand that and try to do that for the most part, but when adversity hits it’s natural to fall back on your old habits. Right now when we struggle to a lot of guys it’s more about the individual success than it is the team’s success. That makes it hard at this level, especially when you’re playing young guys out there. So, individually yes, the guys have gotten a lot better.”
Dealing with adversity has been an issue for the Lakers this entire season. Whether it’s injuries popping up after the team’s impressive start or a team making a run during an actual game, the Lakers have been likely to crumble when adversity hits.
Tuesday’s game was exactly what Walton was speaking of. In looking at the box score Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Ivica Zubac all had solid games, but the performance of the team was terrible.
The Lakers must figure out how to translate individual development into team success and put that ahead of everything else. It is clear that the Lakers still have a long road ahead of them, but the team must continue to push forward.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters unless otherwise noted**