The 2015-2016 season was the worst season ever by a Lakers team. Finishing with 17 wins, the Lakers did not look like a franchise that has won 16 championships. A combination of on court inefficiencies, locker room tensions, and poor coaching led to a very disappointing season.
However, thanks to numerous changes made by the front office, Lakers fans have reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season.
The biggest reason for that optimism is the Lakers young core. Youngsters D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram, and fan favorite Ivica Zubac shined in the summer league. They gave fans a glimpse of what is in store for the future with their impressive play. Other notable young Lakers players are Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle who showed last season that they have the potential to be great NBA players.
It will definitely be exciting to see how much they have improved since last season and summer league.
As with all young teams, there will be head scratching moments and bumps along the way. It is for this reason that the acquisitions of veteran players like Jose Calderon and Luol Deng are important. A strong veteran presence was lacking in the Lakers locker room last year, and it showed as the Lakers blew leads and at times just looked lost. Calderon and Deng are talented players who will not only help the team win games but also be leaders and guide the younger players on and off the court.
The most important change from last year that should have every fan excited is the addition of Luke Walton. The players are already raving about how much fun it is to play under Walton.
“The big change that I’ve seen from this year to last year is: this year they want to come to practice. They want to play the games. Everybody, Larry Nance, D’Angelo, Anthony Brown, the words that they keep saying to me is like, ‘I love basketball again. I love basketball. I want to come here. I want to play.’ They want to get on the court. They’re having fun. That’s the most important part. They’re actually enjoying themselves, even at practice.” – Lakers trainer Marco Nunez.
Luke has shown that he is a capable coach, going 39-4 as an interim coach for the Warriors, and he is familiar with the pressures and expectations that come with being a Laker. He is the perfect coach for this young Lakers team and is a definite improvement over Byron Scott.
Last season, the Lakers were close to being last in almost every category from defensive efficiency to three-point percentage. While it is more than likely they will still have problems, a new coach, talented veterans, and a year of positive progression for the young players will definitely improve the team.
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