The Los Angeles Lakers are back. Late Friday night, the Lakers hired Golden State Warriors’ assistant coach Luke Walton, hoping to bring one of the NBA’s prominent franchises back to relevancy. So far, so good. But is Luke Walton really the best man for the Lakers’ job?
In a word, Maybe. According to Tom Ziller of SB Nation, bringing Walton back into the Lakers’ organization was an “obvious choice.” For months, the question was whether Walton would want to become head coach of such a downtrodden team. With the Lakers needing to make a high profile hire, Walton exploded onto the scene in the first half of the 2015-16 NBA season.
Due to Steve Kerr suffering complications from back surgery, Walton led the defending champions to a 39-4 record to start the season. Although, he officially didn’t win any games as a head coach, the stage was set for Walton become a hot commodity. The Warriors broke the single season record for wins and Walton was a huge reason why. That’s why some NBA pundits believed he should have won the NBA coach of the Year.
Once the Warriors had a couple of days off between the first and second rounds of the NBA Playoffs, the Lakers jumped on their chance. The Lakers wanted Luke and Luke wanted the Lakers. Doubters will say anybody can coach this Warriors’ team, and Walton will have a lot of work cut out for him. That may be the understatement of the year. However, it may not be as difficult as some predict.
ESPN.com also asked their NBA experts is Walton was the best hire. As expected, the results were mixed. Still, it’s not hard to notice Walton’s calm demeanor on the court.
Henry Abbott was not overly impressed with Walton’s hire. Overall, Abbott isn’t impressed with the quality of coaches on the market. He does note how the Boston Celtics thought out of the box and hired Brad Stevens from the college ranks. However, anybody that saw Stevens coach, knew he was phenomenal. After all, he led the Butler Bulldogs to back to back NCAA Championship games.
Abbott stated, “Luke Walton, who is very green in coaching terms, hardly seems like a ‘shut down the search after one interview’ kind of candidate.”
Maybe some NBA pundits want veteran coaches, but sometimes those things are so overrated. Ethan Sherwood Strauss believes Walton will be served best if he’s the opposite of what Byron Scott brought to the Lakers over the last two seasons.
With a high draft pick looming and quality free agents open to signing with the Lakers, the turnaround can be a lot quicker than expected. In fact, Nate Parham of SB Nation thinks the Lakers may be able to acquire some talent from the Warriors. Harrison Barnes might be the odd man out, making him a nice building block for the Lakers. In addition, Festus Ezeli could follow Walton to La La land. They could also lure Kevin Durant or DeMar DeRozan in free agency.
For now, the future is looking bright for the Lakers. Will they be able to keep their momentum once the Warriors’ playoff run ends?