In the midst of some of the darkest days that the Los Angeles Lakers have been forced to endure, they have seemingly built a strong foundation for their future. At the forefront of said foundation, is Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell.
With an abundance of youth on the roster, it is important to have more than just one or two veterans on the team to provide insight for the younger players, aside from former player and current head coach, Byron Scott.
The Lakers managed to bring in multiple experienced players this summer, giving the roster an excellent blend of prospects and veterans. One of those veterans is reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams. The free agent signing came out of nowhere, but Williams revealed it wasn’t that way behind the scenes.
“[The Lakers] were consistent. That’s the one thing I appreciated. Mitch [Kupchak] was very consistent at speaking to my agent and constantly keeping the window of opportunity open. After five or six days, he just asked, ‘What will it take to get it done?’ After that, it really didn’t take much.”
Entering his 11th season in the NBA, Williams can provide plenty of teaching points to the youth on the roster, and he expects that to be a part of his role.
“I just want to lead by example. Come in, bring some veteran leadership. I hope these guys understand it’s going to take a ton of work for us to get into the playoffs. It’s no secret that the West is built strong, but at the same time, I’m very optimistic about the future here.”
Williams reverted back to his time spent with the veterans that showed him the ropes in the NBA, and discussed how it helped him develop as a player. The most notable of those players was current Connecticut men’s basketball head coach, Kevin Ollie, who was also instrumental in Kevin Durant’s growth during his rookie season. Ollie was reportedly kept around for exactly that reason, and has obviously made an impact as a mentor for a number of young players.
“I was blessed to have Kevin Ollie as my vet. When I came into the league, I had Kevin and A.I. [Allen Iverson]. It’s like the best of both worlds with those two guys. Kevin was the guy that would grab me after practice to make sure I got extra shots, extra sprint work and always carried myself in a professional manner.”
Williams hopes to translate those lessons over to the young players on this team. “I’ve had a very great example set for me and I look forward to doing the same for these guys.”
His reflection on the impact veteran leadership had on him personally, comes right after the Lakers signed Metta World Peace, seemingly for that reason alone. World Peace has worked for weeks with Randle, along with first round pick, Larry Nance, Jr..
Some fans believed that Metta should simply be added to the coaching staff if they wanted a mentor for Randle, but Williams’ comments relay the significance of having a fellow player providing guidance. There is a special bond there that a certain player may not have with a member of the coaching staff.
Another guy that could fill that role, but for D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, is Marcelo Huertas. Despite having no NBA experience, the 32-year-old has been around the game for a long time, playing overseas. Several reports have stated that Huertas has been impressive in his preliminary work leading up to training camp, and has a good chance at making the final roster, which would provide another helpful tool for the Lakers’ young players.
Not having veteran leadership to help guide young players could lead to stunted growth and development. That looks to a problem that doesn’t apply to the Lakers. While some people saw these veteran additions as a possibility to slow down the youth by taking away minutes, the team looks to utilize them as a catalyst.
All quotes transcribed via Time Warner Cable Sportsnet