The Los Angeles Lakers have some young talent, but after the worst three-year period in the history of the team, they need to continue to rebuild. On Friday night they chose Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton as the man to lead that rebuilding effort, and he is reportedly excited about the direction of the team.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reports that "Walton believes that lottery picks D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle have the talent to be future All-Stars," and it sounds like the Lakers new head coach got the job in part because he is "high on the Lakers' young talent," according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Aside from the jokes about Walton's reputation for enjoying life this will lead to, it's also good news for those hoping the Lakers don't rush their rebuild.
Russell, Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance, Jr. have played their way into becoming core pieces going forward for the Lakers, with a possible top-three pick joining them this offseason. Walton probably put his stint going 39-4 as the Warriors' interim head coach at the top of his resume, but he also spent time with the D-Fenders as a player development coach, and that experience may prove valuable for his time with the Lakers.
Those aforementioned young Lakers have tons of talent, to be sure, but it needs to be harnessed properly and patiently. The Lakers, and more importantly Walton himself, think he is the man to do it, which points to a team not itching to trade those young players for more proven talent to win now, even with Jim Buss' self-imposed deadline to return the team to contention drawing closer.
That is the sign of a healthy organization, which is far from the picture that's been painted about the Lakers over the last several years. If Walton's belief in Randle, Russell, and the rest of the youth leads to patience from the team, then his hiring was already a success. If Walton executes his vision, that success will play out with All-Star bids and wins for the Lakers' last two lottery picks.
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