Luke Walton’s career as a head coach in the NBA has gotten off to a good start. Although it is only preseason, Walton was able to guide the Los Angeles Lakers to a victory in his first game on the sidelines for the historic franchise with a win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
Along with receiving a lot of love from the fans and his players, Walton also has team president Jeanie Buss singing his praises. Buss recently expressed confidence in Walton being Byron Scott’s successor in Los Angeles as she believes he is the right man to motivate and lead this team filled with talented young players, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times.
“I think that with Luke Walton, under his leadership, I think he is the right person to lead this young team,” she said. “I think he’s going to have them working hard and playing hard and I do think this is a positive for Laker fans to watch somebody who chose to come back to L.A.
“He was in a pretty good situation in Golden State. He knows where the Lakers have been the last couple seasons … in the bottom of the standings, and he chose to come back to a place where he won two championships as a player.”
Walton seemed to win over his players before even putting D’Angelo Russell and company through training camp in Santa Barbara. The 36-year-old has been able to relate to his players and provide an open-door policy in a way Scott simply couldn’t or wouldn’t the last two years.
So far, the culture change is paying off in terms of the players buying into Walton’s system and philosophy. Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Ingram have had nothing but good things to say about Walton and appear motivated to play for the first-time head coach.
The real question will be how the team and Walton respond when facing the inevitable adversity to come. The Lakers will likely struggle once again this year, but having the team focused and believing in their head coach is already a drastic and positive change in Los Angeles.