The past few years have not been been kind to Lakers fans. After three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals from 2008 to 2010, it’s safe to say things have fallen off a bit. Three consecutive years of early playoff exits, and then three more years of establishing new records for losses in a season.
“At least it can’t get worse than this, right?”
This is what I said after the Lakers finished their season in 2014, then 2015, and then this past year. And I can say for a fact it really will not get any worse than this past year. Following Kobe’s last game, the luck and fortune has been present for Lakers fans, as they have been airdropped en masse by supply planes.
April 24: Lakers fired Byron Scott
April 29: Lakers hire Luke Walton
May 17: Lakers win the second pick in the NBA Draft Lottery
June 23: Lakers select Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac
The future is finally bright for the Lakers. As much as the majority of fans thought the future started last year, it was still hindered by the notion this was still “Kobe’s team,” not to mention his retirement tour and the angry bald man with perpetually crossed arms helming the team. Despite those obstacles, the front office did an incredible job of beginning to set up a foundation for the seasons to come.
I fully believe Luke Walton will be able to manage and lead the Lakers’ youth where they need to go. Just watching his introductory press conference, I had a sense of optimism that was lacking during the Byron Scott era. Finally, the Lakers have a coach that is willing to fit a system around the personnel and their skills as opposed to the other way around.
“[The culture] is gonna be joy. Our players are gonna like coming to practice every day.
We’re gonna play a brand of basketball that the LA fans will appreciate.”
“…you can bring those analytics in to kind of support or prove something wrong. We used them in Golden State, I plan on using them down here”
These are two quotes immediately showing the dissimilarity between Walton and Scott. Where one is a rigid old school mind who seems out of touch with how the current NBA works, his replacement is open to the analytics movement and fostering a team environment where communication is encouraged.
Last year there were numerous occasions where Byron simply could (or would?) not communicate with the younger players. In pushing forward with the youth movement, having someone like Luke to foster their growth as well as his own as a coach is an invaluable addition to the franchise.
With Kobe retired, the franchise is left up to the young core of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson (who is most likely going to resign with the Lakers), Larry Nance, Jr. and Brandon Ingram.
As opposed to when the Lakers would make a trade to turn the franchise around, they are taking their time for a rebuild. I am completely okay with that, because this team is poised for success.
On paper, the roster is tailor made for where the NBA is transitioning to. The Lakers will not be a playoff contender next year and that’s okay. For the first time in nearly two decades Laker fans will have a team they will be able to witness from their youth grow naturally towards a brighter future.
Yes, there will be growing pains. Yes, there will be losses. Yes, this team isn’t winning more than 30 games. No logical person shouldn’t expect this team to be in the running to win a championship. However, even though the Lakers will most likely end up with another losing season, we will get to see a glimpse of what this team will have to offer.
The team may not be a contender, but it feels safe to say (without the cover of Sports Illustrated making me sad): “Now this is going to be fun.”
You can follow the author on twitter @KendrewLamar