After the Los Angeles Lakers had overachieved their way to a 10-10 start, Luke Walton’s team has hit a rough patch and dropped their last eight in a row.
Their most recent loss came at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets, who boast a 7-17 record after Wednesday night. The ball club now sits at 10-18, and Luke Walton got after his guys following the 107-97 loss at Barclays.
“He raised his voice. He got his point across today,” said shooting guard Nick Young to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. “Just mentally being soft and calling us out. We got to step up to the plate. I know I’m not soft. My teammates aren’t soft, so we got to show him and prove ourselves.”
Walton, who’s in his first year as a head coach, is loved by his team but isn’t afraid to come down on hard on one of the NBA’s youngest squads. He’s already making strides with the franchise, and the Lakers didn’t win their 10th game last season until Feb 2.
Although injuries have hindered the team over this stretch, the guys who are taking the court aren’t making up for any lack of production. Los Angeles is averaging 99 points per game over their last eight, but they boast a league-differential of -15.4. If anything, the defense has been softer than the offense.
Opponents are shooting 49.1 percent against the Lakers during their skid, and that puts them second to the Atlanta Hawks (49.4). Furthermore, teams are piecing apart the inexperienced defenders and rack up almost 26 assists a night.
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Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell are the two guys who got hit hardest with the injury bug, and they happen to be two of Lakers’ biggest producers. Swaggy P has laced up for just three of the last eight games. DLoading is also at three. Both have been lackluster, and Russell is at 10.3 points on 32.1 percent shooting while Young is 12.3 on 38.9 percent.
Lou Williams has been the only bright spot offensively during Los Angeles’ slump and, thanks to three games with more 35 points, his per game clip is more than 25.
There’s still time for the Lakers to figure it out. Don’t forget that their core (Randle, Clarkson, Russell) is all under 24, and no one has more than three years experience. Since last season was Kobe Bryant’s going away party, this is their true competitive season. Another thing to note is that Walton is still, technically, a rookie head coach and there will be growing pains.
Yes, he did coach the Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 record, but is that roster comparable to this Lakers one? No. It’s not. That team had three All-Stars, an MVP candidate and multiple leaders. Most of the Lakers’ young guys are still trying to figure themselves out.
In case you’re still sad about the recent games, here’s Larry Nance Jr.’s bona fide posterization of Brook Lopez:
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