Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton is a Southern California guy. He grew up in San Diego, and after spending his college days at the University of Arizona, and then came back home to play for the Lakers for nine seasons. Yet, as much as Southern California is in his blood, Walton has learned much in the past few years as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors and hopes that those lessons will allow him to bring the Lakers back from the brink.
It won’t be an easy task, as Los Angeles’ roster is stocked with players who are long on talent but short on experience. There will be plenty of growing pains, but for the young core and for Walton, who is technically a first-time head coach. While the wins aren’t expected to be plentiful, Walton told ESPN that he hopes to build his foundation upon a culture similar to the one enjoyed by the Warriors:
“The culture that we had up there is what I’m trying to build down here,” Walton said. “Obviously, [there are] different starting points. It’s a different plan of attack because of where we’re at and the youth that we have. Obviously, some new coaches are coming in and some new [veteran players are] coming in. But the way they did things, as far as big picture, is something I’d like to see down here with the way our players develop and look forward to coming and doing the work today.”
We have already seen the team take steps in the right direction, with an air of optimism around the club that didn’t exist before. Music now blares during practices, and the players often find their coach stepping onto the court and playing against them.
Patience is still needed, as the young Lakers have a lot of work to do before they can become competitive in the always difficult Western Conference. However, there is a bit more optimism for the future now. Some wins will be needed in order to maintain the positive vibes, but for now, it looks like Walton, the Southern California kid, has the Lakers moving in the right direction.