A bad rookie season doesn’t predict a bad NBA career, but it’s interesting to see a head coach almost purposely sabotage a player’s starting career, as the Los Angeles Lakers, through their brilliant head coach Byron Scott seem to be putting hurdles in front of D’Angelo Russell instead of helping him develop as their point guard for the foreseeable future.
The situation with Russell is like this: He’s not playing in the fourth quarter during blowouts, he’s not playing in the fourth quarter in close games. He’s not playing in the fourth quarter, and he’s not really getting any explanations about what he’s doing wrong, at least according to him. Scott has already said he doesn’t develop players through games, but considering his track record and his plummeting yet still alive NBA career, it’s not like he has a clue either way.
The Lakers looked bad in their 101-88 loss to the Miami Heat, held to just 39 points in the second half. Kobe Bryant didn’t play, but it didn’t make a difference either way. The Lakers have been looking bad with him and without him. Only after a few games without him on the floor we’ll get to see if the theory about his presence on the floor is true. The numbers suggest the Lakers are better when he isn’t playing, but the sample size isn’t big enough.
Another interesting quote from Scott regarding this whole situation, which is turning into him & Bryant against the well being and future of the Lakers, embodied in the progress of Russell and his rookie campaign, has to do with defense, something the Lakers do worse than anyone else in the league. Scott actually said that his best two defenders are his oldest players, referring to Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant. Which exhibits the huge problem the Lakers have with Scott coaching the team.
Scott doesn’t mind throwing his players under the wheels of the bus. Just like Doc Rivers loves to do, only he’s used to winning games in the last eight years, unlike Scott. But Scott never blames Bryant for anything. Some weird connection between the two, who are both helping steer the Lakers ship into the ground, while blaming everyone around them but themselves. Bryant does say when he’s having a bad day, which isn’t stopping him from playing in the usual way.
Maybe the Lakers front office know what they’re doing. Their plan is to tank another year and make Bryant extremely unhappy on his farewell tour, as punishment for the contract they gave him and worked as a block from signing good players over the last two or three seasons. Scott is perfect for that, as he helps the team lose as many games as possible, while keeping Bryant on his side by blaming everyone but him for the losses, which keep piling up.