FanPost

How Luke Walton can lead Lebron James to his 4th Ring

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

I get it. The title probably sounds absurd and ludicrous. But it’s not clickbait, and it’s not a hot take, which is typically the pejorative sentiment expressed with a headline such as this.

Folks have been talking for the last two weeks about where free agent Lebron James will take his talents for the upcoming season, and the latest overwhelming favorite has been the Los Angeles Lakers. Sources say that in order for James to play in the purple and gold, General Manager Earvin "Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will have to make another big splash signing, such as Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, or Chris Paul.

I initially scoffed at the thought of James playing for Coach Luke Walton. But the more I ruminate on it, the more I salivate at the thought of him on the Lakers with another one of the stars that I mentioned.

Allow me to illustrate why.

Walton is a coach who preaches defense, ball movement and pace of play. The Lakers allowed 105.6 points per 100 possessions, which was the 13th best defense in the league this year. Now 13th may be closer to middle of the road than the top, but considering it’s the Lakers best defense since the 2012-2013 season, it’s a huge achievement that could only augment with the addition of James and George, Leonard, or Paul. For James, coming from Cleveland, a team that has been awful defensively the last few seasons, this new system could potentially galvanize him to play the otherworldly defense he has shown in the past.

Since Walton comes from the Steve Kerr branch of coaching, he was essentially hired to implement that Golden State pace of offense to the Lakers. This past season, the Lakers were second in pace, averaging 102.6 possessions a game, which is a quantum leap from years past. It’s been stated by Chris Broussard via FS1, that James is looking to play off the ball more in this next phase of his career, and IF that’s indeed true, this could work beautifully in Los Angeles next season because all of the other potential stars have proven to be successful playing off of the ball. Throw in the legendary passing skills of James in that west coast offense, and it has the ingredients to be something special.

Lastly, the primary nemesis of James (and the league for that matter) is the Golden State Warriors. Given that Walton was the assistant coach for two years, and interim head coach for the Warriors in 2016, one could summarily imbibe that he knows a few things that make the offensive juggernaut in Oakland tick, considering that he arrived at the same time that Steve Kerr did, which was essentially the birth of the Warriors as we know and hate love. If you combine his knowledge with the cerebral brilliance and experience of King James, conflated with another star or two, that spells more than just trouble for Golden State. The insatiable desire to beat the Warriors must be at an all-time high for James after getting swept, and Walton may provide the necessary tools to do so.

There are certainly some players such as Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, or Julius Randle that may or may not have to be moved in order to acquire a secondary or tertiary star in the chance that James elects to play for the Lakers next season. If I had my druthers, I would try to keep Kuzma and Ball at all costs, but if not, such is the way of the NBA when title contention is on the line. There’s no perfect scenario because pieces and pawns will be lost, but it really boils down to whether or not James buys what Walton is selling.

I get it; Walton isn’t a Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson for that matter. But he does offer intangibles that could lead James to his fourth ring next year.

It’s your move, King.