Nick Van Exel shares what people who ‘don’t understand how the NBA works’ are getting wrong

Orel Dizon
3 Min Read
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Van Exel recently offered his opinion on X (formerly Twitter) about how talent alone isn’t enough for team success in the NBA. The one-time All-Star argued that players must also buy into the message they’re being given.

It’s unclear what made Van Exel share his two cents on social media. But he certainly knows what he’s talking about, especially after spending 13 seasons in the league as a player and embarking on a coaching career afterward.

The University of Cincinnati product entered the NBA as the 37th overall pick of the 1993 draft. Despite not being selected higher, he didn’t need long to prove his worth in the league. In his rookie season with the Lakers, he was immediately thrust into a starting role, averaging 13.6 points and 5.8 assists per game.

The following campaign saw the lefty playmaker help lead Los Angeles to a playoff appearance after the squad missed the playoffs in his rookie season.

Over the following years, Van Exel had the opportunity to play alongside some extremely talented players, including Eddie Jones, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. He never got to experience winning a championship, though, as the Lakers traded him to the Denver Nuggets in the 1998 offseason.

He also had stints with the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs before hanging up his shoes in 2006. A few years later, he began coaching.

To Van Exel’s point, this season has shown how important it is for organizations to find the right person on the sidelines to achieve their goals. Both the Boston Celtics and Mavericks — the two teams in the NBA Finals — are helmed by gifted coaches who have earned their players’ trust and admiration.

Hopefully, the Lakers’ next coach can get the franchise’s stars and role players to buy in and lead the team to the promised land after a first-round exit in the 2024 playoffs.

It remains to be seen which candidate the front office will bring in. For a while, J.J. Redick seemed to be the leading choice. However, University of Connecticut coach Dan Hurley recently emerged as a top contender, resulting in the NBA world losing it.

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