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October 5, 2015
|SAP Center, San Jose, CA
|KNBR 680 AM
|Blog Buddy: Raptors HQ
Kevon Looney - Out
Interim head coach Luke Walton is expected to make his debut calling the shots for the defending champions while Steve Kerr recovers from offseason back surgery. Just 35 years old, Walton's leap to assume Alvin Gentry's position as the team's lead assistant was already impressive after just one year with the team, but to now be selected as the interim head coach is remarkable. Walton's resume includes two First-team All-Pac-10 honors, two NBA championships with the Los Angeles team that isn't the Clippers, and of course an NBA championship as an assistant with the Warriors last season. Walton has developed a legacy of winning that even extends to summer volleyball tournaments. How has this come together so quickly for Walton?
As we've seen with some other Warriors, having a father who played in the NBA appears to be correlated with basketball success. In addition to mentoring from Hall of Fame inductee Bill Walton, Luke learned from some of the best in business. He was coached by Lute Olson at Arizona and later by Phil Jackson while in LA, coaches with whom Steve Kerr is familiar having spent many years under their tutelage. It makes sense that Luke Walton's coaching philosophies would mesh well with Kerr's given their similar basketball experiences, but their personalities and interpersonal skills appear to be aligned as well.
Comments from players and management demonstrate Walton's ability to establish a solid rapport with players, much like Kerr. Diamond Leung wrote about the respect that Draymond Green and Bob Myers showed for Walton, praising his basketball IQ. And we'll know how much Harrison Barnes values Walton's feedback if we see him draw more contact for foul calls on drives to the basket this year after reporting that Walton regularly hounds him on the issue. From all accounts, Walton has the vision to help players improve and be a leader on this team.
The Warriors have a pretty good thing going when it comes to the offspring of former NBA players. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson appear to be locks to stay in the Bay Area for the long term, but the same cannot be said for Walton. There's a general vibe that Walton will be a head coach in the near future and Kerr's absence this month will provide valuable experience for Walton in assuming that role. Monday's game will be the first time outside of summer league that we'll see Walton as a head coach and it's likely not the last. For the Warriors' sake, let's hope that he keeps that winning legacy in the Bay Area just a little bit longer.
For our full preview of the season, check out our Warriors season preview storystream.