In the months since he was named head coach of the Lakers, Luke Walton has done a good job of resetting expectations to appropriate levels. He’s spoken about his desires to build a winning culture, but has been careful to not equate that to actual wins. In fact, he’s done the opposite by stating — several times, actually — that this team should not be judged by wins and losses early on.
All of this has been very strategic on Walton and the front office’s parts. After years of selling the myth of the “ultimate goal being a championship” while constructing rosters not built to even make the playoffs, the Lakers have, seemingly, learned their lessons. They hired a young coach, targeted specific veterans at positions of need, and have put the young players front and center as key pieces who need development.
However, just because things seem new; just because Luke Walton is seen as the anti-Bryon Scott, it does not mean there is a complete departure from all ideas which existed under the previous regime. Take Walton’s recent quotes about the Lakers being “built around” the young players:
I don’t think we’re built around the young guys. Obviously they’re a huge part of what we’re doing and developing them, but we brought in some good vets that we feel are really going to help lead in Kobe’s absence. We’re going to be doing our best to develop these guys, but we’re going to be playing the guys who are helping us win and playing the right way and competing every night. We feel like we have some vets who have done that for a lot of years in this league. So we’re going to lean heavily on them as well.
Wait, there’s more. Here he is on whether Brandon Ingram will need to “earn his spot” in the rotation:
Absolutely. Everyone has to earn a spot. You come into camp and you compete against your other players, you respect your teammates, but whoever outplays the next guy in line, that’s who gets to start.
Now, let’s grab Doc Brown, hop in the Delorean, set the date for the summer of 2015, and ramp up the speed to 88 miles per hour. Now re-read the quotes above. Could you hear Byron Scott uttering the same words Walton did? I can.
This isn’t a knock against Walton. I think he adds the proper context in his quotes and this all comes off as perfectly reasonable. I also think this goes back to seeking a balance between trying to win games and developing a young core of players who can hopefully become the foundation for the next Lakers’ contender. These two things can often be at odds and it is up to the coach to figure out the best approach in achieving both goals.
Moreover, I think this is a friendly reminder that all coaches can sound the same when reading their words on a piece of paper/on a computer screen. I don’t want to turn this into a Byron bash-fest, but I think what was most frustrating about his tenure as coach wasn’t just what he said to reporters during media scrums, but how he went about executing his philosophies when it came to games. His rotations, minute allocations, lineup combinations, and end-game strategy all seemed to fall into a pattern which reeked of favoritism and short sightedness.
Walton has not yet had the opportunity to show us how he would handle similar situations. In some ways, then, he gets the benefit of the doubt even if his quotes, when taken verbatim, don’t necessarily sound so different from his predecessor’s. After all, as noted above, Walton is viewed as the anti-Bryon. Plus, simple variables like his age, his general demeanor, and the rest of his body of work as a coach and player influence our perceptions of him.
Ultimately, then, it is interesting to me how a change in coach really can shift our perceptions. Even when what is being disseminated is just a repackaging of ideas many of us were not too keen on when they were expressed by previous people in Walton’s position.
missing a beat,welcome back.Although I’m sure you were monitoring from
afar, it’s good to hear from you so soon.
Cautiously optimistic is what I’m hearing from you and yes, I
agree, coach Walton at this point deserves the benefit of the doubt.Come tomorrow or course,he will be burdened like all other coaches
based on development divided by wins or near misses if there is such a thing.
Again, it’s great to hear from you;back in the saddle so to speak with
your dariusesque perspectives.
Welcome back Darius.
In the end, the young guys can’t be allowed to feel like a spot is being handed to them. You still have to create a competitive culture between players, to earn their spot and their time. If he simply handed it to Ingram, who’s to say Ingram puts forth the extra work? By making him compete with Deng, Ingram has to work that much harder to get his time, his slot in the lineup.
is a `dariusesque perspective´ akin to a `chickism´? 😉
Agree with jlawsonswi, Ingram, along with everyone else, hs to earn his spot.
Good to have you back Darius – thanks man.
Welcome back D. No problem w/ Walton’s message because: 1) it’s logical, 2) he appears to be on the same page as ownership, 3) he has the fans support & 4) it’s honeymoon time. This just wasn’t true during Scott’s time.
Fans are actually interested in the TEAM. When is the last time you heard that about our Lakers?
Clay Bertrand says
Welcome Back Darius. We missed ya!! ; )
BigCitySid10552 Welcome back Darius.
BCS, I totally agree that the context is completely different for those comments. Walton’s words make more sense given the state of this young team with this year’s roster additions:
Importantly, with the signing of Deng, the maturation of JC, and the logjam at 4, there’s little controversy around this the rookie Ingram’s initial bench role. The last year under Scott, however, our rookie point guard (DLO) was sharing time with Lou Williams and Marcelo Huertas at the point. Lou isn’t a point guard, and Huertas has some serious limitation. The “competition” that DLO had to “earn his minutes” from were not of long-term value to the franchise or productive on the court. Letting Russell figure things out as a starter with consistent minutes and role expectations made the most sense. As a result of this dissonance, a lot of fans viewed Scott’s “philosophy” as a justification to punish a green rookie, confirming his reputation as a proponent of veteran play.
Personally, I was less concerned with Scott’s benching of Randle, because last season Randle was competing with Bass and Nance, both who justifiably deserved minutes. Randle seems to be entering this season facing similar levels of internal competition and maybe even more compared to last year. It will be interesting to see if Randle is leaned on as a super-sub and floor general of the second unit.
Hoopshype has an impressive video of Mozgov draining threes: http://hoopshype.com/2016/09/07/timofey-mozgov-cant-stop-making-threes/
If Luke was aware of Mozgov’s range, his contract just got a lot more reasonable.
I thought I was going to see Byron quotes in this…
Alexander_ That’s the International 3pt line, but still nice to see that he has range out to 20ft.
I think all coaches have to say that the best player will play… I can’t imagine a coach saying, Ingram will play because is young, I don’t care if Deng is better. What I actually want to see is how Luke responds in real life, in the moment of the truth… nba games.
Also, they both said that the best players will play, but it seems that Luke is trying to unify the looker room, Byron words seems to destroy the looker room… the way and the moment Byron said thing, were always the worst. Byron challenge young players by critisism, Luke challenge them by positive motivation… big diference.
I don’t know if Luke is going to be a good coach (I think he will) but for now, he is managing things the right way and he has something in his personality that is difficult to hate him like we did with Byron…
Sorry for my english, not my first languaje…
Great article on D’Angelo being better than most assume.
JoseFcoJaimeHuerta Could have fooled me!