MAR VISTA, Calif. -- Luke Walton has yet to be officially introduced as the Los Angeles Lakers’ new head coach, but he’s already made a significant impression on two members of the team’s young core.
“I’m excited about it,” Julius Randle said at a community service event with Delta Air Lines and P.S. Arts at Grand View Boulevard Elementary. “It’s a fresh start for us all. I think Luke is going to be great for us.”
“I’m really excited about him being the new head coach and really seeing how things are put together,” Jordan Clarkson told ESPN.com in a phone interview following a community service event with Alliance for a Healthier Generation at 95th Street Elementary. “I want to be in L.A. and be a part of this whole process. I think it’s an exciting time for Laker Nation.”
Randle and Clarkson have each discussed next season with Walton already, including what Walton expects from them this offseason, and how they’ll fit in the Lakers’ new up-tempo style of play, which will aim to emulate the defending champion Golden State Warriors’ system.
“It went great,” Randle said of the conversation. “Just talked about things heading into next year. He told me what he thought about me, and the things we can get better at. We just talked about the process.
“I think it’s perfect for us. We have guys who can play multiple positions and move well, so I think it’ll be great for us.”
Clarkson added, “It went really well. He told me about his style of play, and how he really wants the young core to really bond together. Mostly it was about how he wants to play and how he sees us, along with the future of the franchise.
“It’s definitely good to have the head man believing in you. We’re definitely going to go out there and compete for him and play hard.”
Walton, who has been an assistant coach with the Warriors for the past two seasons, has been criticized recently for his lack of coaching experience.
But Randle sees Walton’s youth as an asset, as the Lakers’ young core will be able to relate to the 36-year-old better than they did to former head coach Byron Scott.
“He had a valuable experience at Golden State,” Randle said. “Obviously him being so young, he’s going to be easy to relate to. He’s going to demand a lot out of us, and it’s not going to be an easy process, but we’re all looking forward to the challenge.”
Clarkson agreed with Randle’s sentiment, claiming that Walton’s age and demeanor can help bring the young group of Lakers (Randle, Clarkson, D'Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr.), who text nearly every day, even closer.
“It’s just an understanding,” Clarkson said. “He’s played the game and he’s been out here in L.A. I feel like he’ll just be able to relate to us on different levels and make us all closer and want to compete.
“It’s just cool to feel that vibe of energy.”
Walton told ESPN.com last week that he believes Randle and Russell can be future All-Stars, which inspires confidence and trust in Randle before he and Walton have even officially started working together.
“It’s great,” Randle said. “For a coach to believe in you is key. Not only for the success of the player, but mainly for the success of the team. We’re all ready to get back to work. We’re texting each other every day. We’re all excited.”
Heading into the summer, a common comparison for Randle has been Warriors All-Star forward/center Draymond Green, as both have similar frames and skill sets, including ballhandling and passing abilities typical of much smaller players.
Green has publicly stated how important Walton was for his development, and Randle believes he will have the same experiences playing in a similar role to Green in the Lakers’ new schemes.
“Obviously there are a lot of similarities between Draymond and myself,” Randle said. “There will be a lot to learn, but especially with the style of play, it’ll be fun for us to get up and down. Sharing the ball is going to be big for us this year. Just building that chemistry on both sides of the floor.”
As for what specifically Randle is working on this offseason after his conversation with Walton, he wouldn’t divulge the particulars, providing a cryptic answer.
“You’ll see,” Randle said.
Is it a secret for now?
“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t think there was anything new or extremely different. I know myself better than anybody else knows me. Luke obviously knows me well -- he’s been watching me play. There are things I know I need to work on and things I can get better at.
“The biggest thing is he’s all ears and willing to help. He’s willing to go the extra mile.”