Cleveland Cavaliers fans expected many of their big name players to have good games in the season opener on Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards, but it had to be a surprise to many to see the stellar play of Luke Walton.
That’s right, Luke Walton.
If you just look at Walton’s stat line, it doesn’t exactly jump out at you. In fact, it looks like more like it’s hiding behind a chair.
On the stat sheet, it shows that Walton played 12 minutes, scored 2 points (shooting 1 for 2) and pulled down 1 rebound.
But in the game, Walton was very active. He was making nice passes, he played good defense and he was hustling. He also showed some veteran leadership, which is important for this young team.
This is Walton’s 10th year in the NBA. He has played most of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and played on some great teams. He came to Cleveland in a trade last season, and his play was hurt by injuries. Walton has explained that he has been suffering from back pains for the last three seasons and he was considering retiring after this year if the pain did not subside.
His back finally feels good for the first time in a long time, though, and Walton looked like he felt much better when he was on the court on Tuesday.
Head Coach Byron Scott said after the game that he was also happy with Walton’s play, and in particular pointed out that the 6-8 forward is an excellent passer and defender, and is a very smart player.
Walton played significant minutes with the Cavs second unit on Tuesday night, and he fit in well with the group. If he can stay pain free this season and keep playing like that he will be a huge plus for the Cavs this year, even if his stat line doesn’t really show it.