The Los Angeles Lakers finished the 2016-2017 NBA season against the Golden State Warriors as they saw their five-game winning streak come to an end. While the team finished with a 26-56 record, Lakers head coach Luke Walton was optimistic about the future that awaits for the franchise next season.
In his first full season as head coach, Walton discussed the goal of improving the team’s fundamentals according to Tania Ganguli of Los Angeles Times:
“This wasn’t, coming in, ‘Hey let’s go turn this thing around in year one, competing for a title. … We didn’t have the same goals as Golden State had starting this year, or Cleveland starting this year,” he said. “Our goal from the coaching standpoint was getting better at passing, getting better at playing defense, making reads on the court, having the individual skill level of the young guys. That’s where we’re at right now and that’s going to continue into the summer.”
The Lakers signed Walton to a five-year, $25 million contract last year. After two seasons as an assistant coach for a championship contender, Walton’s approach had to change for a rebuilding situation with young players.
To begin his coaching career with the Lakers, Walton led the storied franchise to a 10-10 record. However, injuries and inconsistent play led to them finishing with the third-worst record in the league behind the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers hope they land their top-three protected pick in this year’s NBA Draft lottery. In a draft class that features Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz, Walton and the Lakers are looking to add another prospect to their young core of Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.