When a team finishes with a 26-56 record, obviously a lot went wrong. The Los Angeles Lakers are no exception, finishing up a season filled with often unwatchable basketball with a 109-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors Wednesday.
Still, the season wasn’t all bad for Los Angeles. The Lakers improved upon their previous campaign by nine wins, and saw tons of growth from rookie forward Brandon Ingram down the stretch as well as flashes from their young core of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance, Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Ivica Zubac throughout the year.
The Lakers even improved from the second-worst record in the NBA to the third-worst (although that may not qualify as a positive if they lose their 2017 first-round pick). Baby steps.
There were smaller positives as well, and Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton shared a few of his favorite memories from his own rookie campaign with the media and fans on Spectrum Sportsnet:
Luke Walton's favorite moment of the season? Nick Young stealing the game winner from Lou Williams... https://t.co/kwRYiHlLgw (better video)— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) April 13, 2017
Walton cited Russell's game-winner and opening night as two of his favorite memories— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) April 13, 2017
Those were easily some of the best moments of the Lakers’ season, and featured two of the crazier game-winning shots of all-time. First there was Nick Young stealing the the freaking ball from his own teammate to win a game, and then there was Russell’s magical game-winner the night his grandmother passed away.
Walton was also able to find some bigger picture positives from the lottery-bound year:
Luke Walton big picture on the 2016-17 season pic.twitter.com/d4YVAOhKkF— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 13, 2017
“Improvement” seems to the buzz word for the Lakers as they enter the offseason, with Randle similarly talking about what the team needs to get better at over the summer during his final postgame locker room scrum.
Only time will tell if the Lakers achieve their true potential, but Walton noting that the current young core is capable of “special” things should serve as good news for a franchise anxious about the potential the Lakers could lose their lottery pick.
Such a loss would indeed hurt the franchise, but the group they have looks like they could be capable of greatness already.
All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our favorite memories of the season below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.