The maturation process of a young NBA team is a fascinating — and often hard to judge — process. The roster will lose a lot, often making it hard to judge how much progress is being made in the first place, while also running the risk of creating a “losing culture” (i.e. an environment in which players become comfortable losing).
The other potential issue that sometimes makes it hard to trust the process is the possibility that players start to fight, or that the locker room becomes too negative as players who have mostly only experienced winning become inundated by far more losses than victories.
We don’t know if any of those things are becoming problems for the Los Angeles Lakers specifically, but D’Angelo Russell’s comment’s on the latest “Lakers Voices” podcast make it seem like the team is starting to figure out how to stay even-keeled in the wake of the ups-and-downs their season has produced:
“When we have a bad night or something like that, we can’t go pointing fingers and being young and immature about it,” Russell said during Monday’s Lakers Voices session. “It’s something we’ve got to just stick with.
“And then when we play well, we can’t get too high on ourselves, like, ‘All right, we’re there.’”
The Lakers won’t be a legitimately good, contending team for quite a while (possibly three to five years, according to their new advisor), so how the team weathers losing streaks, as well as how they deal with success, will be important factors in their growth process that the coaching staff and front office will have to monitor.
It’s easy for Russell to say that the team can’t get too high or too low, but whether or not they actually live up to those words will help determine just how high this team’s ceiling actually is.
All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.