Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott has come under a lot of scrutiny recently for his handling of second overall pick D’Angelo Russell.
The rookie sitting out the fourth quarter in three of the Lakers’ eight games so far has been a particular source of frustration for fans.
Scott, however, insists that he is doing this to help Russell’s development. According to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, Scott refuses to just throw Russell out there before he is ready, regardless of his draft position:
Lakers HC Byron Scott on D’Angelo Russell: “I’m not going to throw him to the wolves, per se, just because he’s the No. 2 [overall] pick."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 11, 2015
Mark Medina of the LA Daily News noted that Scott is happy with the work Russell is putting in, but just doesn’t want to overload the rookie:
Byron said he is happy with D'Angelo's preparation, work ethic, but doesn't want to throw everything at him at once.
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 11, 2015
Scott is in a very tough situation in how he handles Russell’s development. Many are expecting immediate results from Russell, especially when seeing his fellow 2015 draftees such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, and Kristaps Porzingis have excellent games so early into the season.
Russell is not as physically developed as some of his contemporaries, and that is surely part of the reason he is struggling early. Whether or not Scott is handling Russell the right way regarding his development will be found out in due time, but it surely seems as if Scott is prioritizing it, even if some don’t agree with his methods.