While blatantly tanking, the Los Angeles Lakers use the remaining games of the 2016-17 NBA season to prioritize the development of their young players. Despite the improvements shown by their young core, coach Luke Walton admitted the Lakers don’t have an”All-Star type of guy” yet.
“We don’t have that one alpha yet, or that one All-Star type of guy to really calm us down, when adversity hits,” Walton said. “We have guys that want to win and care but when things start going bad for us…we still don’t have that one player to step up and kind of calm us down and get us on track.”
After Kobe Bryant retired last season, it has been a major question on who will be the next franchise player of the purple and gold. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram were the results of the Lakers’ years of tanking but none of them are currently capable of filling the void left by “The Mamba.” With the Lakers’ inability to acquire a superstar before the trade deadline, Jeanie Buss decided to make a huge change and fired his brother Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Magic Johnson became the new president of basketball operations while Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent, became the new GM. Recently, the Lakers decided to shut down Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng for the rest of the season. The move simply explained that Los Angeles is strongly considering the idea of tanking.
Luke Walton letting young core learn on their own
As of now, they hold the second-worst record in the league and have a higher chance to land a top-3 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. This will help them secure their 2017 first-round pick which they could use to acquire another potential superstar on their team. However, coach Luke Walton doesn’t like the way his team is playing right now.
After beating the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers lost three straight games. The past two games against the Denver Nuggets and the Houston Rockets were a nightmare as the Lakers lost by 28 and 39 points, respectively. Walton wanted his young players to learn on their own and urged them to exert more effort on the defensive end.
“I truly believe that even if it hurts us in a game right now, by letting guys figure it out on their own, they’ll get to that place much sooner,” Walton continued. “There’s times that I will take control of a situation and times where I’m going to let them figure it out on their own and keep toying with that, as we’re a team that’s growing.”
Walton’s statement could be a challenge for the Lakers’ young core to continue improving their skills. Ivica Zubac, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson showed major improvements in the recent games and it’ll not be a surprise if the Lakers already have an ‘All-Star type of guy’ next season.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr.com