Currently sitting at 8-15, the Los Angeles Lakers are hovering around the expectations most had coming into the season. In the midst of a five-game losing streak, things are tough for Luke Walton’s team, but the head coach retains an even-keeled approach when discussing the development of his young roster.
Walton said before the season that he wasn’t going to measure the success of his team solely through wins and losses. He still maintains that stance, even if there’s been some regression.
“Success for us is how we compete, the effort that we give, mainly on the defensive end was kind of our theme to start the season,” Walton said after practice on Tuesday. “The main ones with us are consistent effort and mindset of being a good defensive team.”
The Lakers’ defense has certainly slipped some from the beginning of the season, but they still rank in the top 10 in defensive rating. This is a much bigger jump than anyone thought would be possible and Walton would consider his team ahead of schedule.
“They’re doing pretty well. They’re further ahead than I would’ve thought,” Walton said. “Obviously, there’s some slippage now that we’re getting 20-plus games into the season, practice time is limited, guys are starting to mentally and physically fatigue a little bit.”
The additions of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez have certainly played a role in the Lakers’ improvement, but it’s also occurred internally from the likes of Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Brandon Ingram.
While there may be an expectation for the defense to again find its footing, that can prove to be a difficult task as loses pile up. That’s where Walton and the coaching staff must pave the way.
“That’s our job as coaches, to make them realize they’re succeeding and getting better, even with right now the five straight losses,” Walton explained. “There’s still a lot things that they’re doing much better right now than at the beginning of the season. There’s some things we’re not.”
Walton is still in the midst of figuring out the best lineups that can bring the Lakers consistent effort on both ends of the floor. That undoubtedly has been a struggle this season .
Nonetheless, the Lakers have clearly taken a step forward in their development even if the record doesn’t quite reflect that.
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