Luke Walton made an appearance on The Vertical Podcast with Woj and talked everything from his time at Golden State, to the current team, to Nick Young.
Walton talked about the current Lakers and how they are a different challenge than the Warriors were when he was in Golden State.
We have a ton of coaching to do. The basics of the game we have to get back to. Shell defense, defensive stance, not reaching, basic stuff that we have to do.
They’re not going to get sick of us if they know we care about them. Not act like we care about them, but truly care about them. Spend time with them 1 on 1 watching film, have the environment setup that they know they can come talk to us anytime.
Instead of coming in and ripping everything and being upset and irritated, I’ll change the mindset, alright we need to have fun today. We’ve lost 3 games in a row and I know normally that means everyone should be mad or whatever, but for our group we need to come in and have fun today. With us, we’re at our best when our guys are having fun out there. When we’re moving the ball and playing with energy, that’s when we’re at our best.
Based on the last two years and the start of this season, it’s no surprise Walton has felt the need to stress the fundamentals of defense. Even though they have improved (still with a large regression recently), the Lakers make simple mistakes on defense, and it’s clear they were never previously taught simple rotations and fundamentals. Walton also touched on how he has to learn how to coach each individual player and there is no one size fits all approach. Much of coaching a new team and being a new coach yourself is a willingness to experiment and figure out how to reach each individual player.
One of the biggest stories in the off-season was what to make of Nick Young. In something short of a modern miracle, Luke Walton has made Nick Young a solid NBA player again on BOTH sides of the ball. Walton touched on that situation and how they’ve revived Nick Young and transformed him from Swaggy P to Uncle P.
Some of that swaggyness makes him what he is and makes him so valuable to us. We told the players clean slates for everybody. People are going to earn spots, people are going to earn minutes. I talked to the Nick…. the opportunities will be there for you, but you got to commit to the defensive end. To his credit, he has really stepped up on that end. When he does some of the antics he does, it lights up our crowd, it lights up our team. So we still want him having that type of fun while he plays, we just closely monitor it and he’s naturally going to do some crazy stuff in practice and say some crazy things and lose focus, but as long as we’re on it, it’s as simple as ‘Nick,’ and give him a little look, and he acknowledges it and mentally locks back in.
The Lakers are in great hands with Luke Walton at the helm. They’ve hit a rough stretch with a rash of injuries this month, but once healthy this team will be a force again. It’s early, but Luke Walton is a front-runner for Coach of the Year.