The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their fourth loss of the preseason after falling to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. Second overall pick D’angelo Russell had an unimpressive night with 11 points, three assists and seven rebounds. He was a -2 for the game.
Russell’s second appearance off the bench was not as stellar as his showing against Maccabi Haifa. The rookie was a step off his usual pace and it affected the 2nd unit as they shot 35.9% off the bench.
Russell admitted that he knows his role with the starters and will need more time to figure out his bench role.
“When I’m out there with the bench, it’s a different role, so when I get established on what my role is, I’ll figure it out,” Russell said.
The Lakers’ starters looked stagnant without a playmaker on the court to help the offense. The starting backcourt of Clarkson and Kobe Bryant had one assist to the Kings’ nine. The Lakers were fortunate that Julius Randle had six assists but should not expect anything of the sort on a regular basis. The solution is clear: Byron Scott should start Russell to avoid staggering his rookie’s potential and maximize his offense.
Scott didn’t seem impressed by Russell’s showing but noted that no one really looked good out there on the night.
“He was okay, he wasn’t great but I don’t think that there was really anybody that was,” Scott said.
It suffices to say that Bryant has had difficulty defending guards and depending on Clarkson to carry the Lakers on every possession is unattainable at the moment. Russell also needs the experience and play time necessary to develop into what the Lakers want him to be.
Russell has led the Lakers in assists during preseason and needs to build on that to become a top- class playmaker. His growth and ability to show that he can lead the Lakers to the playoffs in the future will be scrutinized more than his statistics will be.
Scott has had a favorable history with point guards such as Jason Kidd and Kyrie Irving. He has the experience to turn point guards into stars in this league. The same can be done for Russell.
Scott will also need to gauge the effectiveness of Marcelo Huertas upon his return from injury. The Brazilian point guard is a seasoned playmaker that should not have difficulty setting up the bench unit.
No matter what happens, Scott needs to accurately convey any information to Russell and ensure that he doesn’t have his potential wasted by strange tactics and unfavorable adjustments in his game.
Scott needs this to work so his performance as head coach will be mainly evaluated by his development of Randle and Russell.