Luke Walton may become the biggest bust of the 2016-17 NBA season.
With big names like Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons coming into the league, it’s the rookie head coach in Los Angeles that has all eyes on him.
After securing a record setting 39-4 start to last year’s season as the replacement head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Walton quickly became the most coveted coaching candidate in the NBA. Already a media darling, Walton’s combination of suave charisma and down to earth attitude have adorned him to Lakers fans since his days running the court with Kobe Bryant.
A true player’s coach, Walton has been commended by his young core for his fun coaching style and new school approach. With three lottery picks and a couple of draft steals on the young Lakers roster, upper management has looked to him to lead the franchise into the next generation.
As coaching greats like Phil Jackson and Pat Riley loom in the banners above the Lakers facility, Walton faces immense pressure to perform in his first campaign as the head coach in LA.
Each of the last three head coaches of the Lakers have had their tenure end in termination, and this year’s young roster is looking to Walton for much needed stability. In the aftermath of Kobe’s farewell tour and a roster void of veteran presence, this season has been devoted to the development of the team’s youngsters.
While nobody expects much from this inexperienced Lakers core, if they sputter out of the gates and show a lack of progress there will be no one to blame but Walton. With such lofty expectations placed on Steve Kerr’s protégé, there is a good chance he might fail.
Can Walton do what Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni and Byron Scott failed to accomplish?
I hope so, and he has more going for him than the previous coaches in LA. But with so many expecting so much from Walton, the rookie coach may be getting setup for failure.
While rookie players are usually given an opportunity to adjust to the league, first-time head coaches are rarely awarded such luxury. Mike Brown was fired after a 1-4 start just a few years ago, and while Walton’s position is immensely different than Brown’s, the fact remains if Walton fails in his first season, Lakers fans may pressure for his ousting.
With so much hype surrounding the infant stages of his head coaching career, Walton looks to live up to the anticipation of his first year back in Los Angeles. As he readies himself to lead potential stars in Ingram and D’Angelo Russell, the young coach hopes he won’t become the biggest bust on his team.