Los Angeles Lakers No. 2 draft pick D’Angelo Russell hasn’t heard his name called with the starting unit, since he bruised his glute after a hard fall in the Lakers second preseason game against the Utah Jazz in Hawaii. Nick Young started in his place during the Lakers third preseason game (Russell sat out for precautionary reasons), and in the past two games, No. 34 draft pick Anthony Brown has been given starting spot while Russell has played with the second unit.
After the Lakers loss to the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, Russell admitted that his role change is something he needs adjusting to.
“I feel like I’m foreign to it right now, it’s different,” Russell said on Time Warner Cable SportsNet about coming off the bench. “If I’m out there with the starters, I know what I’ve got to do. 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.”
At practice this week, Scott gave a smile upon being asked about Russell’s role.
“I’ll let him know later,” Scott said about whether his plans for Russell involved starting or coming off the bench. “I want him to play basketball. I know he’s got a lot of things going on, a lot of things in his head. He doesn’t know if he’s going to start or come off the bench, but either way his role is going to be the same.”
Scott’s acknowledged that had Russell not taken that hard fall during the Lakers preseason game in Hawaii, Brown probably would not have had the opportunity to start. But, especially defensively, Scott’s been happy with what he’s seen from Brown in his two starts.
Whether Russell finds himself back in the starting unit on Saturday in their preseason game against the Golden State Warriors, remains to be seen. On Friday, Scott said he had not yet solidified his lineups for Saturday; however, with Kobe Bryant ruled out (lower leg contusion), it seems likely Russell will be back with the starting five.
Though Russell said on Tuesday, coming off the bench was a different role for him, Russell spoke a different tune on Friday after practice.
“I feel like I still have the same role with the first unit,” Russell said about his role off the bench the past two games. “I was still getting guys involved, putting guys in position to score the ball and pushing the ball in transition and it’s the same as the second unit, knowing that you’ve got Lou (Williams) and Nick (Young) running side by side, knowing they’re bucket-getters you know that you’ve got to put them in position to set up either the offense in transition or get a bucket in transition.”
In his 18 minutes off the bench against Maccabi Haifa, Russell dished 11 assists to go along with his five points. On Tuesday night against the Kings, Russell only had three assists in his 20 minutes, but also had 11 points and seven rebounds.
When pressed further about how exactly his roles are different whether he starts or comes off the bench, Russell explained it’s all about pace.
“I feel like the first unit is more of a controlled pace, trying to match the other teams intensity or the other team trying to match our intensity. The second unit is more like you see what you need to add to get that advantage against this team, what they’re doing in pick-and-roll defense or in transition, them not getting back, you see where you’ve got to capitalize on that, so in the second unit you try to attack that.”
The Los Angeles Lakers take on The Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.[divide]