Culver City Observer -

I Applaud Byron Scott for Benching Russell

 

March 17, 2016



Laker broadcaster John Ireland is a friend of mine. He now does the work I used to do – travel all season with the Lakers and form strong opinions about their play. He broadcasts and I write, but both of us have had first-hand knowledge of Laker happenings over the years.

The other day I listened to ESPN radio’s morning shows and was intrigued by what I was hearing.

Coach Byron Scott reacted when DeAngelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson got off to very slow starts in an eventual homecourt loss to the New York Knicks.

Miguel Huertas and Lou Williams replaced the young starters and the Lakers overcame a large deficit to make the closing minutes exciting. Yes, they lost but the reserve guards were a highlight of the night.

But the next day callers were criticizing Scott for keeping the reserve guards in the game for so long.

And Ireland was properly pointing out that Huertas and Williams had far better statistics than the starters.

He thought Scott made the right decision. He tried to educate the callers that the reserves gave the Lakers a chance to win.

But some callers, I’m afraid, have their minds made up and don’t to listen to reason.

I think Clarkson has improved over his rookie season. I wouldn’t have minded if he was the starting point guard this season. And the Lakers could have drafter a quality big man, either Jahmal Okafor or Krispits Perzingis.

As for Russell’s future we’ll have to see how he develops. He has a long, long, long way to go to become what Laker management expects.

Before Tuesday night’s loss to Sacramento we were discussing in the press room what Russell’s value will be in upcoming years.

Will he be better than Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul. Kyle Lowery, John Wall or Tony Parker?

Unlikely.

After Tuesday’s game it seemed right to add the Sacramento guards who had run circles around Russell – Rajon Rondo and former UCLA star Darren Collison.

He pointed out the starters were having trouble and the reserves – both far more experienced – helped cut down the deficit.

So, hooray for Scott because I’ve been troubled for months by Russell’s failure to live up to expectations of Laker management.

He has some high scoring games but he doesn’t earn many assists and he struggles on defense. He had three assists against the Knicks and Huertas had six in just 20 minutes.

I Know Russell is very young and just learning how to function in the NBA after playing just one year in college.

But he was the second choice in the NBA draft and if he’s going to need three years or so to make a major impact the Lakers made a mistake in drafting him that high. As the Lakers are in their fourth straight year of missing the playoffs they’re in no position to go from their former greatness to their dismal present.

 

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