The Los Angeles Lakers Opening Night game versus crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers didn’t take long for the team to leave a sour taste in mouth of Laker Nation. Whether it was missed defensive rotation after missed defensive rotation or a stagnant offense with little to no ball movement. It left everyone wondering what was the hype all about this off season. We all saw a disorganized team with no energy. The message the fans heard all summer was this team would play hard 100 percent of the time. Did the message not make it to the team that these games actually counted? With the Los Angeles Lakers first round pick going to the Philadelphia 76ers, there is no tank this season. But that’s not how they played. Head Coach Luke Walton stressed that the team came to training camp hungry to work. He even mentioned there were times during the summer he had to lock the gym because players would not leave. So why was there no energy tonight in the home opener? We did not see an eager team ready to start the season off on a good note against a rival.
With newly acquired shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suspended for the first two games of the season because of an off season DUI, Luke Walton and his coaching staff decided to place beleaguered forward Luol Deng in the starting line-up in place of him. It turned out to be a disastrous decision. What had everyone scratching their heads was the fact the 32-year old forward out of Duke University who would be more equipped it handle a more traditional half court offense was inserted in the line-up running Luke Walton’s new Run and Gun system featuring the likes of Lonzo Ball and Brook Lopez. He struggled mightily, in 13 minutes of action he went 1 of 2 from the field including one turnover finishing with a minus 7 for the night in the plus/minus category. Laker fans can only hope Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t have anymore run-ins with the law.
Luke Walton entering his second season as Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers has struggled to bring cohesiveness to the franchise as was promised upon his hiring. The Lakers don’t look like they’re in any better shape than the former Laker Byron Scott’s rein as head coach. The team has yet to establish an identity on how they would like to play. It’s definitely not the Up and Down, ball moving style that was promised. We also have yet to see a jump in player development by their young core. Whether its Brandon Ingram driving into the teeth of the defense to take contested jump shots or Julius Randle pouting he is not longer in the starting lineup, something needs to change. With a rookie head coach and inexperienced assistant coaches, it’s in doubt whether this partnership will work out. Maybe President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson need to step in and force Luke Walton to hire veteran assistant coaches with head coaching experience a la Golden State Warriors General Manager forced upon the arrival of Head Coach Steve Kerr.