Luke Walton.

Luke Walton is a member of the L.A. Lakers young core just like everyone else

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The L.A. Lakers were gifted their first bit of positive news in a few years earlier this summer when Luke Walton agreed to return home and become their new head coach.

It's been a tough period for the Purple and Gold, to put it mildly. The lustre that once radiated from the franchise has disintegrated into an uncoordinated mess, and if the Lakers brass had a plan, those blueprints would make for spectacular reading.

Remember, the Lakers were only champions of the NBA back in 2010, that's not a long time ago at all. But of course, in the world of draft picks and superstar trades, even a year can be a long time in the NBA.

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The Boston Celtics are a testament to that. They finished 15th in the east back in 2006-07, but just one year later they were NBA champions.

The Lakers shouldn't expect a miracle turnaround like that, but with Walton at the helm fresh off playing a vital role in the success of the Golden State Warriors, there's every reason to carry a healthy bit of optimism in the wake of Byron Scott's uninspiring reign.

The former power forward led the Warriors to a 24-0 start last season in the absence of head coach Steve Kerr, who was recovering from back surgery. His assistant stepped in and all of a sudden become a hot commodity around the league; the Warriors looked vibrant and almost effortlessly coasted past teams heading into the new year.

Eventually, the Dubs would go 73-9 to produce the best regular season ever, and Walton's early-season stint - which comprised over a half of that eventual record - showed just how talented the 36-year-old is.

2016 NBA Finals - Game One

So does that mean the Lakers are going to be imminent contenders again? Not by a long shot.

First of all, look at the Warriors' roster last season. D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson - as promising as they are - are no Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and they may never be.

Even though the Lakers managed to inflict one of the nine defeats Golden State suffered last season, overall, their roster is a far cry from Walton's accomplished former employers.

Bear in mind the likes of Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli would have walked into the Lakers' starting five last season, and they were mere role players in Oakland.

2016 NBA Finals - Game One

But the Lakers are in a different space to the Warriors right now. They are a young side who went through some growing pains without any real guiding lights last season.

Sure, Kobe Bryant is a legend, but his retirement season was more of an indulgence than a helpful curve for the starlets in L.A. That's not necessarily Kobe's fault, but the roster didn't cater to their potential.

The additions of Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and Jose Calderon should help with that this season. Add in Lou Williams and another year of experience for the young crop, and all of a sudden, the Lakers look at least a little bit more attractive.

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors

Will they hit the playoffs? No. This is a learning curve for Walton as much as anybody else. For all intents and purposes, he is just like Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and all their other stars right now - he has potential.

Combining an inexperienced coach with inexperienced players might not sound like the wisest move in the world on paper, but perhaps Walton's youth and current perspective on the league is just what they need.

Lakers fans will hope the two-time NBA champion brings the style and substance he helped bring to the Warriors to L.A., but make no mistake, Walton is a part of the Lakers' young core as much as anybody else.

Kobe Bryant
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Julius Randle
Luol Deng
Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference

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