The Los Angeles Lakers will continue to go through growing pains and learning curves all season. But what happened Friday night was just an example of what will happen when the Lakers play like the team they have they have to potential to be.
It doesn’t care if the Golden State Warriors were on the second leg of an emotional back-to-back or not. They are professionals, two-time Western Conference champs and have been in this position more than once during their run.
What the Lakers showed is the same fight I’ve written about all offseason. The one where they won’t get too down after a win or loss. There is a great mixture of talent on this team. It starts with PG, D’Angelo Russell and ends with Tarik Black. The players have trust in one another, an element that was missing last season. But a lot of what you see now has to do with the teams trusting and believing in the system that new coach, Luke Walton has installed.
There are five players averaging double digits in scoring and 8 players averaging more than 20 minutes a game. The season is still young and Walton will be forced to trim the minutes and rotation down eventually but what he’s done has worked so far. This week the team has managed to beat two playoff teams in the Atlanta Hawks and now the Warriors with defense and a balanced attack.
The surprise has been the play of oft-exiled guard, Nick Young. Young has worked his way into the starting lineup and has been nothing short of amazing. His per of 12 points in 23 minutes has helped take the pressure off some of the younger players. Jordan Clarkson has been a scoring machine off the bench, Julius Randle continues to show his worth in the post and once Deng is called upon to take charge, he will be more than ready.
How far the Lakers go will rest on the shoulders of Walton. Unlike the majority of teams in the league, he has leaned on his entire roster to get a team many picked to finish last in the conference. It’s not a surprise to me or any other Lakers fans where they stand now.