Doesn’t that embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves feel like forever ago? It’s amazing what a couple wins can do for a team, really. While most of the credit for Lakers’ turnaround has been guys regaining their health, Luke Walton deserves some praise as well, especially when you hear about how hard he was working.
John Ireland of ESPN Los Angeles came on our very own “The Lake Show” podcast and detailed what he sees from Walton on a regular basis.
“I get to see how much time Luke is putting into all this stuff. He’s working hard to get them out of this. He’s doing everything he can.
”The way the plane is configured, the players sit in the front, the coaches sit in the middle and everybody else, including me is sitting in the back. So I’ve got to walk past what Luke is doing both when I get on the plane and when I go off of it... I have never, ever seen him not looking at film. Every time I walk by him, he has a laptop with a Laker game on. He sets next to Jesse Mermuys, one of the Lakers’ assistants, and they’re constantly going over film, they’re constantly making requests of the video guys so they can make specific cuts so they can show players exactly what they’re doing.”
This is obviously great to hear and is vastly better than the alternative (Walton not working hard), but it would be fascinating to find out what it is he and Mermuys are looking for in their video sessions. Much like with Lonzo Ball free-throw shooting in practice, all the reps or work in the world can be for nothing if they aren’t focusing on the work that might make it productive.
I’m by no means criticizing here, either — though I might advise a little more film study of Ball’s free-throw shooting. There is no way to know what Walton and his staff focus on in their film work. I’m just merely curious as to their priorities in this aspect of their jobs.
All that matters at this point is that the Lakers turned things around and continue to build on that momentum. To Walton’s credit, the team seems to have found something in running more of the offense through Lonzo Ball and moving Brandon Ingram into more of a secondary creator role. Those adjustments helped allow Kyle Kuzma to play the best game of his career.
When asked about the Lakers’ recent suffocating defense, Ingram credited the coaching staff.
“I think the coaching staff has done a really good job of drawing up an easy way to defend guys in their main points and their offense. We just followed it and continue to follow it and it did good for our offense and defense,” Ingram told reporters after Wednesday night’s win against the Detroit Pistons.
It’s impossible to say how much of the Lakers’ turnaround has to do with how many hours of film Walton watches, but it’s at least good to know he was willing to work tirelessly to find anything that might give the Lakers a consistent advantage.
Listen to our full conversation with Ireland below.