Last night, Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton agreed to become the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton, who had been declared as the team’s top candidate, gave no indication as of late that he was interested in abandoning his post next to Steve Kerr on the Warriors sideline, which gives the hire some shock factor.
As a Laker fan, Walton was my top choice. Here are the three main reasons why.
Where he’s coming from
Having spent time with the Golden State Warriors these past two seasons is completely invaluable. Just being part of that atmosphere makes Walton attractive. His 43 games spent as head coach of the Warriors in the first half of this season while Steve Kerr recovered from two back surgeries gave Walton some experience at the helm of the greatest team in NBA regular season history. I don’t care how small the sample size is, Walton has been around some of the most fun, exciting, and progressive style of basketball the league has ever seen. It’s not expected of him to magically replicate that with the Lakers, only to bring that fun with him.
Youth meets youth
Walton is 36 years old, still carving out his coaching identity, which pairs well with the Lakers, who are now in identity transition with Kobe Bryant retired. The Lakers possess one of the league’s promising young cores, giving Walton something to work with over time. A veteran coach might have more trouble with a group like this, especially considering the likes of the D’Angelo Russell-Nick Young fiasco. Walton’s grwoth will be synonymous with the team’s and I think that’s healthy.
Walton wanted this job which means he also wants the responsibility that comes with this job. He was on the 2009 and 2010 championship Laker teams as a player. He knows what this job means because he has Laker pride. That pride, as we fans can only hope, along with his stint in Golden State, can be an appealing feature to free agents. That goes back to bringing the fun to LA. Walton knows he’ll need to establish a new culture that makes the Lakers attractive to play for again. I trust him to do so because he has Laker pride built in him.
I’m still in a bit of shock that we landed Walton this quickly, and to me this was the best possible hire for the Lakers. Here’s to the next era under Luke Walton.