Walton Uses Lessons From Kerr In First Year With Lakers

LAS VEGAS — Before the Lakers and Golden State tipped off Saturday’s preseason game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr decided to give his old assistant, Luke Walton, a little tip by telling him the first play that they’d run.

Walton declined the inside info, preferring even footing against Kerr, who has been a vocal proponent of Walton since he accepted the job as head coach of the Lakers four months ago.

“It ends tonight,” Kerr joked before Saturday’s game. “I hate that guy.”

If anything, it’s the complete opposite between the two, as Kerr said that Walton is “gonna be a brilliant coach,” and Walton continued to praise the lessons he learned from two years under Kerr.

In particular, he highlighted the culture that Kerr established up in Oakland. Walton allowed that the Lakers are in a “different starting point” because of their young roster compared to the already playoff-experienced team that Kerr took over in 2014.

With Walton in tow, Golden State won the title in Kerr’s first year and compiled an all-time-best 73-9 record in his second, coming one win short of back-to-back championships.

“It was a family atmosphere,” Walton said. “Guys enjoyed coming in and competing every day. There was a value in doing things the right way. There was a value in the way people held each other accountable.”

Thus far, the Lakers have bought into this aura around the team, as evidenced last week when every player arrived for an optional day of work, per Walton.

The Lakers clearly have a long road to the Warriors’ level, as evidenced by the 74-47 halftime lead that Golden State’s juggernaut starting five grabbed on Saturday.

But Walton said he’ll use tape from that game to help teach his Warriors-influenced, pace-pushing offensive system — in particular how Golden State’s players cut, quickly moved the ball around and competed on defense.

On the other end, Kerr expressed confidence in his protege’s abilities, saying that he expects Walton to create a “great” team atmosphere and get his players to replicate that ball movement.

“He’s such a great guy,” Kerr said. “He’s become one of my best friends. We’re all gonna miss him, but we’re all happy for him. I know he wouldn’t have taken any other job but the Laker job to leave Golden State.”