Luke Walton took on a very tough task when he accepted the job offer to become Byron Scott’s successor as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only was it Walton’s first head coaching gig in the NBA, but he would have to pick up the pieces following Kobe Bryant’s farewell season with an unproven squad of talented young players.
Although Walton was unable to end the playoff drought in Los Angeles in his rookie campaign, the first-year head coach did spark optimism within the organization and its fan base while inspiring his young players over the course of the 2016-17 NBA season.
Ahead of the season finale against the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr spoke highly of his former assistant coach and the job he’s done in Los Angeles so far, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
Though Kerr has noticed the season has become “very trying” for Walton when they talk every couple of weeks, Kerr argued that Walton has “done an amazing job.”
Along with a positive impact on the Lakers franchise thus far, Walton is on the verge of finishing his first season as head coach on a high note. The Lakers have won five straight games and will look for a sixth win in a row at the expense of his former team.
The Warriors have nothing to gain from another win with the title-contending squad having already wrapped up the top seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers, however, also have nothing to lose or gain regarding the NBA Draft Lottery with the team now locked in with the third-worst record behind the Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets.
With no impact on the lottery odds, the Lakers might as well go for the win and finish Walton’s first season strong with six straight victories. Golden State might not make it easy though with Kerr set to play rather than rest Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.