The Los Angels Lakers are headed in the right direction both on and off the court but it will take some time to get where they used to be. Magic Johnson will fix the ship, that’s a given but the product on the floor falls on the shoulders of Luke Walton. The Lakers started the season hot but injuries and a little inconsistent play from their top free agent signees’ have caused the team to slip to 19-39 on the season.
The core that Walton has to work with is young but the talent is there. The issue that I am seeing is the same that’s going on with the Philadelphia 76ers and their young players. Walton has to make his mind up on a steady rotation. Currently, the Lakers are playing nine players over 20 minutes (including the now-departed Lou Williams). There is another four playing over 10 minutes per.
I get what Walton is doing but he must remember this is not the NBA All-Star game and not everyone is deserving of proper minutes. His first order of business is to let Timofey Mozgov control the paint for more than his usual 20 minutes. The Lakers are last in defense but with Mozgov not seeing enough of the floor how is that supposed to change? The Lakers love to go small and that’s what Walton picked up during his time with the Golden State Warriors. The same can be said for Julius Randle and either Brandon Ingram or Luol Deng. In order for them to find any consistency or chemistry, they must be on the floor and play starter minutes.
D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson are in the same boat. With Williams gone, that should open the door for Ingram to see an increase of minutes. But Clarkson and Russell most see more than their usual 27. I expect Russell’s time to get a boost as Williams was his primary backup.
The first half is done and maybe Walton was playing it safe to see what type of team he had in front of him. However, with the playoffs virtually out of the question, the Lakers are now playing for the future. I belive in Walton. I think he’s going to be a great coach in this league for years to come. However, he must develop tough skin and not forget that the bottom line in this league are wins and not trying to make everyone happy. If he can figure out how to do that in the next two months, the Lakers will show him just what they can do when a coach shows them the confidence he has in his team.