Well, it’s about time. After posting a franchise worst 17 wins (against 65 losses) last season and going through the distraction of Kobe Bryant’s prolonged retirement show, the Los Angeles Lakers can now finally focus on what’s important – developing the new generation “Showtime” and get back to relevancy.
Over the last three seasons, the Lakers have been able to get young and skilled talent through the draft including Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and D’Angelo Russell. In the 2016 draft, the team was able to get the N0.2 pick and chose the sweet-shooting Brandon Ingram – a lanky 6-9 player who can score from anywhere on the floor and handle the ball as an oversized point guard.
As Russell put it in a recent interview “Kobe deserved every bit of attention he got in his last year, but there’s freedom in Kobe not being around.” Basically, the Lakers youngsters can now grow without the overbearing shadow cast by a broken Kobe Bryant.
It also helps that the Lakers have a young and respected coach with a resume to match. Luke Walton won two championships with the Lakers and was part of the brain thrust in winning Golden State’s title in 2015. Taking over the reins last year from an injured Steve Kerr, Walton led the Warriors to a 39-4 record when Kerr resumed coaching full-time en route to an NBA-best 73-9 regular season record.
Walton is now going to try to sell a vision, a vision based on selfless play, making the extra pass to find the open man, and hard-nosed basketball. Team above everything else. These were the things that worked wonders for him in Golden State. Walton also has a ton of talent to develop since his core will be one of the youngest in the NBA. He brings stability to a franchise that has all been destroyed by dysfunction and losing their rabid fan base as a result.
If it’s any indication and with their opening season win versus the Houston Rockets, the Lakers are slowly getting back into the groove. They probably won’t make the playoffs this year given a loaded Western Conference but they will make many games more interesting with their talent and youth.
Without Bryant ruling the roost, the Lakers will definitely have a shot at bringing in a superstar or two next season to bolster their young team. You will recall that the Lakers, despite their open musings, were not considered by Kevin Durant even for a short meeting.
The Lakers now have a clear roadmap after years of chaos. They will need to develop their budding superstars while teaching them the right way to play the game. By next season, the Lakers will start playing once again for playoff contention. They are on their way there.