In their final preseason game, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Phoenix Suns 98-94. The game served as a good test for the Lakers considering the Suns are also a young team led by a new, young coach who enjoyed a long NBA career. For the Lakers that coach is Luke Walton, but for the Suns it’s Earl Watson.
Like Walton, Watson enjoyed a long NBA career before becoming an assistant coach. He became the Suns’ interim head coach last season, and was named the full-time coach once the season ended. In fact, Watson is the second-youngest coach in the NBA behind Walton, being only nine months older than the Lakers coach.
Both coaches are in similar positions as young coaches who are tabbed to lead young teams back out of the cellar of the Western Conference and after Friday night’s game, Watson had high praise for Walton via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
“There’s no better guy to lead a franchise and teach a franchise from a youthful perspective that he brings to the game with maturity and knowledge,” Watson said. “He sees the game on a different level. There’s so many levels at this game. There’s so game within a game. Few can see it with substance the way that he does.”
That knowledge of the game that Walton posses has been something that many Lakers players have pointed to. He has been able to teach this young team while also being young enough to relate to them. It is a difficult balance and Walton seems to have it down so far as he has received glowing reviews from all the Lakers players.
Of course Walton (and Watson) have plenty of work to do in order to get their respective teams back into playoff contention, but Walton has the tools to do so and it seems apparent to everyone.