NBC 7’s Ben Rosehart discusses why the Lakers should consider Luke Walton as the team’s future head coach in this commentary.
The Los Angeles Lakers are a mess.
The Purple and Gold are expected to miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight season which would be the first time in the franchise’s history. And after the first few weeks of the season, whatever they are doing on the court is obviously not working.
I’m predicting right now that within the next 3 years - Luke Walton, the San Diego native – will be the next good Lakers coach.
Doesn’t mean he will be the next coach. But when the Lakers turn the corner and get back on the road to relevance – I expect Luke to be in the driver’s seat.
Walton is currently earning his coaching “driver’s permit” as interim head coach of the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
This season the Lakers have an aging star in future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, who is starting his Derek Jeter-like farewell tour around the NBA in what is probably his final season.
It doesn’t take a basketball savant to realize that the Lakers’ future lies in the young players on the roster. This includes recent first round draft picks Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and the underrated Larry Nance, Junior along with emerging star Jordan Clarkson.
But if you think current head coach Byron Scott is leading the Lakers back to relevance, you need to sit the next few plays out.
Scott has spent the past 3 decades in the league and certainly has forgotten more basketball than most of us will ever know.
He enjoyed a 14-year NBA career with more than a decade as a Laker. For all you trivia fans out there, Scott was actually drafted by the then-San Diego Clippers with the 4th pick in the 1983 draft.
After transitioning to the coaching ranks, Scott patrolled the sidelines for years as head coach with the Nets, Hornets and Cavaliers before coming full circle and returning to the Lakers. But this latest experiment has gone awry – similar to how the Lebron-less days in Cleveland were tough to watch.
Just like his teams were in Cleveland, the Lakers are stagnant on offense. There’s a lot of 1-on-1 isolation plays and rushed shots without the flow of an actual offense. If you saw that awkward backwards shot by Marcelo Huertas in their latest uninspiring loss against the Miami Heat – you know exactly what I’m talking about.
This is where Walton and the Warriors come in.
The Dubs are demolishing opponents left and right and they play beautiful, unselfish basketball.
If League MVP Steph Curry, sharpshooter Klay Thompson, and defensive antagonist Draymond Green all stay healthy, the Warriors should be well on their way for another deep playoff run.
Make no mistake, there are a lot of coaches that could look really good if they were given all the talent on the Warriors. But as is the case with many jobs, you learn by doing. If you get the reps, it gives you a chance to get into a rhythm and evolve when you put in the effort.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Walton said, “I believe in learning from your teachers and I’ve had some great ones. There’s things I take from Steve Kerr, things I take from Phil Jackson, things I take from [longtime University of Arizona coach] Lute Olson. There’s things I take from everyone that I’ve worked with.”
Kerr did the same as a player, broadcaster and team official. He was coached by Jackson and Greg Popovich, and has countless connections throughout the league dating back to his college days at Arizona and his time as Suns general manager.
Walton maintains publicly that he is just keeping the seat warm for Kerr to return from his back surgery issues and is relishing his current opportunity in the interim.
But he also has admitted that it’s a lot of extra stress being the final decision-maker for rotations, schemes, and other changes that are made on the fly.
It’s obvious that Walton is young enough to connect with many current NBA players and also known for being a good communicator. Look no further than NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala credits his former Wildcats teammate for helping him understand his role in college and later in the pros. Walton made a name for himself by developing a high-basketball IQ despite not being the fastest or most talented player on the floor.
Eventually, Iguodala realized his full potential at the University of Arizona as he transitioned from playing as a high school star with freakish athletic ability, to a role player that focused on defense, unselfish passes and those “glue plays” that keep a championship-caliber team together.
Think about that. Defense. Unselfish passes. Glue Plays.
Iguodala was a huge reason why the Warriors won their 1st NBA title in 40 years last season, and Walton played a big role in bringing the best out of him.
The Lakers need someone that can do that as they try to reboot the system and get back into the playoffs.
Don’t be surprised if you hear Luke get his chance when that head coaching job at the Staples Center opens up. You heard it here first.