The looming shadow of Kobe Bryant has been lifted from the Lakers franchise, and a roster full of young players have finally started to step into the light.
The days of the franchise being dominated by a diminished superstar, lacking in self-awareness about his decline, and a youth-hating head coach Byron Scott are over.
Don’t get confused, the Lakers are going to lose a ton of games this year with their infantile nucleus of budding young talent in the brutal Western Conference, but as of today, they’re a surprising 4-3, and have put together a 3-game winning streak under rookie head coach Luke Walton.
Former Warriors’ assistant Walton has replaced Kobe-ball with an L.A. version of the communal Warriors’ up tempo, team offense, based on passing and ball movement. The early season results have been a drastic improvement from the last several seasons spent in the dark recesses of the NBA basement.
The previously stifled young roster, including Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., and rookie Brandon Ingram, have been focused on winning games instead of pacifying Kobe with volume low percentage shots. They can finally grow.
On Friday night, they notched a 20-point blowout win against the newly formed Golden State super team with Kevin Durant. For the first time in years, there was some electricity in Staples. It’s just one game, but it was still a shocker. The throwback “Showtime” uni’s were a nice touch, too.
The win against the Warriors was led by Julius Randle with 20 pts, 14 reb, 2 ast ?
Julius went to work on both ends tonight ? pic.twitter.com/lbqvHXg4IQ
— Lakers Direct (@LakersDirect) November 5, 2016
Last night, the Lakers continued their mini-hot streak with a 119-108 win over the Suns, with 6 L.A. players in double figures. An unheard of stat in the waning days of Kobe’s reign.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 7, 2016
This Lakers’ campaign is sure to have it’s share off losing streaks and growing pains, but at least it appears that Luke Walton has slowly begun the transformation of changing the Lakers’ identity from being about Kobe, to being about the Lakers, and winning games.