The Los Angeles Lakers have undergone a complete culture change this preseason as not only did Lakers legend and team leader Kobe Bryant retire, but the team made a coaching change hiring a former teammate of Bryant’s, Luke Walton making him the youngest head coach in the NBA.
A lot of the team’s young players have responded well to Walton, as D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram recently talked about his excitement in practice.
One challenge Walton will face this season is finding a player to lead this young team, as Bryant was the unquestioned team leader for the Lakers the past decade.
Walton said he has seen leadership qualities in some of his players though, naming both young players and veterans, via the Lakers official Twitter account:
Luke Walton says that he has seen leadership in camp from D'Angelo Russell, Luol Deng, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Lou Williams.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 25, 2016
Julius Randle, who is entering his third season in the league, recently talked about wanting to be a leader for this team, and many Lakers players have talked about D’Angelo Russell’s leadership ability as the team’s starting point guard.
It comes as no surprise that Walton sees Luol Deng and Lou Williams as leaders, as they are both veterans that were brought in as free agents the past couple offseasons for that exact reason.
Larry Nance Jr., who was a late first round pick in 2015, is entering his second with the team and figures to play a key role coming off the bench. Despite it just being his second NBA season, Nance Jr. played four years of college basketball at the University of Wyoming so at 23-years-old he is one of the older, more mature of the Lakers young core group of players.