Is Luke Walton Bringing a Golden State of Mind to Lakerland?


When free agency began, the Lakers were looking at a very young team. They had a lot of cap space available, a lot of roster spots open, but a young core they wanted to focus on which included Brandon Ingram, their 2016 draft selection. This off-season was an off-season full of promise that started off with the firing of Byron Scott and the hiring of former Lakers player and Golden State assistant, Luke Walton.

Free agency included names like Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Demar DeRozan, Hassan Whiteside, all who at some point the last couple of months, had been rumored to be interested in the Lakers. After the first two full days of the NBA free agency in the books, the Los Angeles Lakers have managed to sign Timofey Mozgov (4 year, $64 million), Luol Deng (4 year, 72 million), and they also resigned Jordan Clarkson. Not really the players that Lakers fans were hoping to pop up on the news (except Clarkson). So what could possibly be the reason the Lakers chose to sign Deng and Mozgov to such large contracts?

When you look at the Lakers roster with the addition of Mozgov and Deng, I see a lot of similarities to the Golden State Warriors. I know, right now you are thinking I am insane, but bare with me. If anyone knows the Warriors, it is obviously Luke Walton, being he was the former assistant under Steve Kerr. The Lakers future is in the hands of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. All four guys are extremely young, and very talented, just like the Warriors once were when they drafted Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. The Warriors though, needed some veterans to go with these young and very talented players so they added Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut among others. Bogut and Iguodala are not Golden State’s best players but they have both been a huge part of their success the last few seasons.

When you look at the addition of Mozgov to the Lakers, he is going to have a very similar role to that of Andrew Bogut. They are both very skilled players, both 7 feet tall, both are able to rebound and block or change shots at the rim. Bogut (made $12 million this past season) was also signed to a large deal, considering what the salary cap was when he signed. Mozgov was not signed to come in and be the dominant center Lakers fans are used to. He was brought in to be a key piece to what they are trying to build over the next four years. If Mozgov can contribute the ways Bogut has for Golden State, you would have to look at this signing as a positive one, even if it cost them $64 million over four years.

Similar comparisons could be said for Luol Deng and Angre Iguodala. Yes, Deng may be past his prime and Iguodala joined Golden State at a younger age than when Deng is joining the Lakers. The comparisons between the two are also similar. Iguodala (13ppg, 6rpg) and Deng (15ppg, 6rpg) both have very similar career stats. Deng, like Iguodala, is 33% on shooting the three ball. Deng is also a very good defender as is Iguodala, which is who Golden State uses to guard guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant in crunch time. Both players are very versatile and have been used to play the stretch four position. The Miami Heat had success when Deng played the four position late in the season.  Golden State uses Iguodala as their four when they go to their ‘death’ lineup. Iguodala (made $11 million this past season) was also signed to a large four year contract back in 2013.

I am not saying the Lakers are going to have the success that the Warriors have had over the last couple of seasons. What I am saying though is that when you look at the signings, and look at how Golden State was built, there are similarities. The core of the Lakers roster is very young and needs time to grow and develop. The potential is there just as the Warriors roster was once looked at as potential. Duplicating what the Warriors have done the last 2 seasons would be very difficult for any team to do. Luke Walton should be given a chance to show what he is capable of doing with this team before we come up with conclusions. The Lakers may not have signed one of the big name free agents, but what they have done is sign good veterans to help a very young team. The potential is there in Los Angeles, and they now have a coach that looks to be bringing a Golden State of mind to Lakerland.


Stats are according to basketball-reference.com

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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