Take it from Stephen Curry: The Los Angeles Lakers’ players love them some Luke Walton.
Baxter Holmes wrote a fabulous piece for ESPN.com on Walton’s attempts to bring a little Golden State Warriors culture to Hollywood. There is a long way to go, quite obviously, but the early returns are good. Walton’s players like him and are responding to him, according to Curry:
“I’ve talked to most of the guys over there,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry. “They all love him and his approach to coaching their team. That says a lot about who he is and how he’s going to try to change their culture.”
Curry isn’t alone in this assessment, nor is it just Warriors players and coaches, with whom he spent the previous two seasons, speaking out on his behalf. Julius Randle raved about his new head honcho in Holmes’ piece as well:
“Very positive atmosphere,” added Lakers forward Julius Randle. “We know we’re going to take our lumps, but we’re just trying to get better every day. We just know that we’ve got a lot to learn.”
On the one hand, Walton isn’t following a tough act. Byron Scott’s tenure with the Lakers was an unmitigated disaster. He couldn’t relate to the kiddies, which is a huge problem when you’re in control of a rebuilding squad.
On the other hand, though, Walton’s more laid-back, culture-focused style seems to be effective in general. Yes, the Warriors worked so well together, got along so well together, because they were winning. But putting an emphasis on relationships and development and clear directives, both on and off the court, goes a long way.
The Lakers are already reaping dividends from Walton’s time with Golden State on that front. Their team appears far more united than it has during the previous few years. Whether that’s the first step toward building a sustainable power down the road, we can’t be sure. But Walton’s sideline reign already beats that of the previous regime.