For Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, playmaking with a more simplistic approach, might be the most beneficial offensive focus for him this season. During their Christmas Day win over the L.A. Clippers on Sunday night, head coach Luke Walton said he got on Russell a couples times for trying to make the spectacular play, rather then the simple pass.
It’s something Walton has continued to stress, especially with Russell committing an average of 3.1 turnovers per game this season.
“In reality, the simple leads to the spectacular,” Walton explained after the game.
Russell is averaging 4.5 assists this season, up from his 3.3 apg last season, but his assist to turnover ratio has yet to improve. Walton said Russell was great in practice on Monday, but when it came time to scrimmage, Russell made a similar ill-advised pass, when he could have made the simple play.
“The tough part is, I’m a big believer in letting these guys use their creativity,” Walton furthered after practice. “They’re the best players in the world. Obviously, I don’t want them thinking they cant make plays, but you’ve got to know time and score and when somebody is open, to me, just hit him, and let that guy make the next pass and for where we’re at as a team right now, that’s going to give us our best chance to succeed, and he (Russell) did that for a lot of the game yesterday, but there’s a few plays that could’ve cost us, and one in the fourth that did cost us, where we could’ve just made the simple pass and we tried to do something a little too flashy.”
Walton comes from the coaching philosophy of wanting to give his players freedom to make their own decisions, but with a young group, that too can be challenging.
“We give them freedom, and then we coach them,” Walton said. “It’s how you grow, you let them make mistakes, but you’ve got to correct them when they do…but you still encourage them at the same time.”