Los Angeles Lakers fans are bitter and out for blood after watching their team go 0-2 to start four out of the last five seasons. However, the extremity of the stances taken by most are rooted in ill-conceived hope and notions.
There’s not many coaches that are winning more than 33 games with this roster despite tactics or approach.
That’s not to say Byron Scott can’t use to improve upon both, but there’s a definitive low ceiling for this team — and that’s something that Lakers fan are exasperated at having to digest.
The exhaustion and frustration has seen petitions for Scott’s firing begin to fly around social media like a vulture to a corpse.
— Kyle H (@kylemarx13) October 31, 2015
On the surface yes, D’Angelo Russell should be getting a minimum of 30 minutes per game if the primary goal is the development of this squad’s youth. That said, to discount just how raw Russell has looked would be to choose ignorance over observation.
Russell hasn’t reached his twentieth birthday and isn’t exactly what most fans — and perhaps even the Lakers — thought they were getting when they drafted him second overall this year.
He possesses rare vision and is a truly gifted passer, but he is not a “pure point guard” by any stretch of the imagination.
The truth is, Russell is a scoring guard that just happens to possess pure point guard attributes. It will take time for him to walk in his gifts the way most fans expected out of the gate.
Russell also finds himself vying for minutes against multiple other guys on the roster who are attempting to do the same thing as him game-to-game. However, having to sit more than he would like may not be such a bad thing as Kobe Bryant observed in recalling his early years in the league:
“Those years were invaluable for me because nothing was handed to me. I had to work for it. If I was getting 15 minutes a night, I had to work for those 15 minutes and I couldn’t go in there and play like crap or I’d sit on the bench and not play the next five games. I really, really had to work for it. I’m very thankful for that,” Bryant told Baxter Holmes Saturday.
Bryant went on to conclude that Russell will get more opportunities to make mistakes and learn than he did during his rookie season because people were expecting the Lakers to win a championship that year.
Firing Scott this year, even this early, does absolutely nothing to help either the youth or the future of this franchise.
An unfortunate truth most fans don’t want to swallow is that this was never going to be a winning season and until both Scott and Bryant are gone, the team won’t play the style that’s most conducive to how they’re beginning to be constructed.
Scott is here to see Bryant off in the most comfortable fashion possible, to try to win as many games as he can and to develop this team’s youth — in that order.
Should Scott avoid playing Brandon Bass at center most times? Absolutely.
Was a Ryan Kelly and Bass front court an atrocious defensive decision that left the team without much hope against the Sacramento Kings? Without question.
However, options are slim in la la land.
Tarik Black can and should take Bass’s minutes until the veteran rounds back into form for defensive purposes; but fans should be prepared for that to not impact the outcome of games much.
Yes, the “let the youth play” outcries have been heard loud and clear.
However, fans need to remember that as an NBA head coach your job is to win games and develop your young talent — with the former being what determines your strength of resume and long-term job stability in the league.
Further, Scott has already demonstrated more flexibility early this year than ever before as he has agreed to reduce practice and game-day shoot around lengths after noticing how tired the Lakers legs looked against the Kings.
There is little doubt that this season marks the end of both Scott’s and Bryant’s tenure with the purple and gold.
Thus, Lakers fans would be wise to pump the brakes and understand the roster and year before them for what it is: a cushy ending to a legendary career coached by a man looking out for his own future and friend.
If they can do that, they’ll likely save themselves a lot of heartache.