Since going 45-37 in a tumultuous 2012-13 season and getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have finished under .500 in each of the past four seasons. They’re likely headed for another such record this year.
The rebuilding process has seen a seismic shakeup in the front office and turnover in the coaching department. But Luke Walton has seemingly brought about stability, and the Lakers’ young core has shown signs of growth and development this season.
The team has remained much more competitive when compared to last season, and with their blowout victory against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, matched last year’s win total (26) in 21 fewer games.
Brandon Ingram believes that factor is indicative of the team improving, which he said has been accomplished on an individual and team levels, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk
“I think we can say we’ve gotten better,” Ingram said of the Lakers from a season ago. “We’ve gotten better over these last months as a team, coming into every single game thinking defense first.
“I mean, the camaraderie we had this year from last year is a lot better. I think guys came in and we worked extra hard, whether it was individually, whether it was as a team, we just thought we could figure it out sooner or later. And we came in every single day and worked at our game and then we started to figure it out.”
Ingram is one of the few players who remain from last season’s roster and is expected to be part of the team moving forward. His stellar play this year has included filling in at point guard for the injured Lonzo Ball, and doing so to impressive results.
Julius Randle has also taken a leap forward, overcoming frustration earlier this season when his role was reduced to coming off the bench. And of course there have been flashes of brilliance from Ball, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers have 22 games remaining to see how much they can improve on last season’s win total, but as Walton and the front office have stressed, improvement is also gauged by development of the young players, and that’s already proven to be a success.
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