Moving D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle to the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers might benefit them eventually, because it means less minutes next to Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers lost again, this time 102-93 against the Toronto Raptors and hey, Bryant can’t even be blamed because he shot 50% from the field for once. It’s actually the first time this season he shot so well and the Lakers still lost. Take that Kobe haters, it’s not his fault at all, right?! Well, Bryant is a huge part of the problem, but the Lakers are a bad team, with or without him. He just makes the losing more fun to watch because of how awful he’s been most of the time, although he’s once again above the .300 shooting line.
Back to important players like Russell, because Bryant isn’t going to be playing in the NBA for much longer. Russell finished with 9 points in 21 minutes while Randle did a little bit better, scoring 15 with 11 rebounds in just 11 minutes. Byron Scott has no clue how to help Russell play better or become more consistent. He’s just playing with his minutes, his role, everything, hoping that somehow it clicks, and then he’ll hear some applause from people who’ll say he’s good at developing young players. Like he cares.
The interesting thing about Russell moving to the second unit was what the rookie himself said after the game: There’s just more ball movement. No disrespect to Kobe, but you know you have more opportunity because of who he is. Russell was political as possible. The younger Lakers players look depressed in the loss a night before to the Detroit Pistons, with Bryant pulling off another historically bad performance. They’re getting tired of losing, and they’re getting even more tired of having to stand next to someone who is helping them lose despite being on the same team.
Ups and downs are part of every rookie’s debut season especially with so little time in college basketball these days. Russell was always going to be inconsistent when he plays in terms of performances. But rookies, especially ones that are supposed to have an important role in the franchise’s future, should play a lot of minutes, without getting toyed around with by an incompetent head coach. At least Russell has less minutes next to Bryant at the moment, which is the best news he’s had all season.