There were many distinctions on display when the Lakers faced off against the Warriors in the season opener, but the most glaring one was seeing a team with nine newcomers facing off against a group whose three-man core has been together for a decade.
Sure, Golden State was working in a few newcomers like Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green, but that team’s system has been in place since Steve Kerr arrived in 2014. There’s an institutional knowledge and familiarity that no other team in the league possesses, certainly not a Lakers squad with a new head coach and mostly new rotation still playing its first minutes together.
LeBron James cautioned during the preseason that the Lakers would have to “learn on the fly” as they tried to catch up to other teams with more continuity, and the challenges of that were laid bare Tuesday as the Lakers looked like they were literally a step slower than the Warriors. Unfortunately, that’s a process that the Lakers will just have to deal with over the course of an 82-game season.
At times like these in the past, LeBron has leaned on a specific metaphor to preach patience: instant oatmeal. It appears his current head coach was listening.
He said it about the Sixers rebuild and the Cavs in 2016. pic.twitter.com/rmuIsNEsHZ— conrad kaz (@conradkaz) October 19, 2018
After the loss to Golden State, when Darvin Ham was asked about the contrast in the continuity between the two teams, he broke out that tried-and-true explanation for how the Lakers can’t rush their development:
“Chemistry is not like Malt-o-Meal. It’s not instant. You don’t just throw it in the microwave. It’s like that’s something that has to be baked over a course of time, and we’ll get there — again, getting the reps in when we’re able to practice, shootarounds, film work. We’ll get to the point where we know each other and it’s second nature the way we play basketball. That’s definitely the goal and it just takes time, just gotta be willing to be patient.”
Kudos to Ham for specifying a type of instant oatmeal (Quaker Oats has always been a personal fave, but I understand where he’s coming from), and it’s objectively funny when a coach with his last name makes a breakfast-themed remark. And in terms of building chemistry, it has to be a good sign that Ham and his star player are at least thinking on the same page. Eventually, that should spread to the rest of the roster.
The Lakers don’t have a ton of time to actually start cooking. Their history of starting 0-2 isn’t promising, and the national postgame chatter after one loss was already a bit dramatic. But Ham’s perspective isn’t incorrect either, and it’s fair to at least grant him some grace and some patience as the Lakers figure out what kind of team they’re going to be.