The Los Angeles Lakers will try to be different and especially better than last season. They’d also like to start developing something. A Jordan Clarkson-D’Angelo Russell backcourt, with Julius Randle finally playing his rookie season. Kobe Bryant taking a step back is a big key in all this planning.
This isn’t another Kobe bashing post, even if it has a huge potential to turn into one. This is about the options the Lakers have heading into next season. From the words of Byron Scott, Bryant is going to play away from the backcourt this year. And play less minutes. And games. More small forward minutes, maybe even as a power forward, as Scott realizes the game has moved on since his days as the coach of the Nets over a decade ago.
Are we going to have a Russell-Clarkson-Bryant-Randle-Roy Hibbert lineup? Not out of the question, but that is going to be a hideously slow lineup except for Clarkson. It also puts some pressure on the three perimeter players, all loving the ball in their hands, to share. Maybe we’re going to see someone move to the bench?
It’s not going to be Bryant, that’s for sure. He’s going to be rested in some games, but don’t be surprised if the future backcourt for the Lakers gets its minutes later in games, not right from the start. Brandon Bass might also start instead of Randle, while Lou Williams is also going to be getting minutes and time with the ball. Maybe for Russell and Randle, playing in the second unit works out better, at least before everyone knows what they’re dealing with.
Russell is an excellent shooter, but also has great vision. A real point guard, who is slower than your average bear, but makes up for it with his passing and shooting, and hopefully in time his decision making as well, usually not the strongest attribute for a rookie. Scott got lucky last year with Clarkson’s rookie campaign and Bryant’s injury. He “developed” him well. Now it’s time to see him under more difficult circumstances, unless Bryant gets injured again (not in the realms of science fiction), do the same with Russell.