After two years of trying to scrape wins together with a rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers team, head coach Luke Walton will be faced with a different, but equally complex task of trying to develop players on a “win-now” team.
Realistically, the Lakers won’t be competing for a title this season, but with LeBron James now on the roster, Walton will face pressure to at least compete for a championship. However, he’ll also have to continue to develop the young core of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma but with less room for error.
It’s a challenging task for any coach, but it’s one Walton seems up to the challenge for. After practice on Tuesday, Walton talked about how he handles managing a veteran heavy roster while putting a priority on developing his young players.
“As a coach, I sit down once we have our roster and spend time looking at what’s most important for our group and what we need to dedicate our limited time to starting with camp and practice, and that does change with the roster changes that we’ve made, but we still know we have a young group of players that’s a big part of our future, so it’s important that we still develop them, but it’s just a different style of development now," Walton said.
"It's not the ‘let them play 35 minutes, learn from the mistakes, play through situations.’ Now it’s ‘look, this is what we’re doing. We got a lot of guys on this team and if you’re not doing it right, you’re going to learn by coming out and watching other people do it," Walton continued. "It’s getting to the same point, it’s just teaching them by using different lessons."
Some young players might not respond to being thrown into the fire all that well, but the young group the front office has put together over the years seems to relish it.
Earlier this summer, Hart said the team is ready to win now and Brandon Ingram shared a similar sentiment in a recent Instagram post.
Ultimately, all the talk doesn’t matter until the Lakers have proven themselves on the court, but they’re off to a roaring start. For Walton’s sake and the team’s, let’s hope it stays that way.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.