The Los Angeles Lakers have decided to bench rookie guard D’Angelo Russell for the second time this season, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. This comes after the 19-year-old started showing some progress after being placed back in the starting line up. Lakers head coach Byron Scott states that this is not a punishment for Russell. Since D’Angelo is so young, however, he might not view this as a test of confidence and humility. An old school head coach who believes that young players need to earn their minutes, Scott is hoping that the gamble pays off down the line.
Since the start of the season, Byron Scott has been irritated by D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, two of the guys that the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to lean on in the near future. The head coach was not pleased with the defensive efforts of his rookie guard and second year forward. Something drastic needed to happen, so Scott decided to take away their starting jobs. Russell and Randle were demoted to the bench while Lou Williams, a veteran guard that can put up points, and rookie forward Larry Nance, Jr. were promoted to starters.
Despite being just 19 years old, D’Angelo Russell is aware that public relations is an important aspect of being an NBA player. He knows that the media loves to pounce on players that say the wrong things. To his credit, Russell has done a solid job of responding to reporters when asked about the demotion. The Kentucky native keeps talking about working hard and being ready whenever his number is called by Byron Scott. D’Angelo is obviously not happy about losing his spot in the starting lineup, especially since he knows the burden that comes with being the second overall pick in the NBA Draft.
In comparison, Julius Randle is taking the benching much harder. Members of the media have noticed that the former Kentucky Wildcats star has a tendency to include silent gaps during his responses. Randle is obviously bothered by it and does not appreciate the demotion being placed under the spotlight. Julius knows that he is not on the same level as Minnesota Timberwolves rookie center and fellow Wildcats alumni, Karl Anthony Towns, but he also knows that he should be outproducing Larry Nance, Jr., the 27th overall pick in the NBA Draft who was not expected to contribute much during his rookie season.
Byron Scott has been telling reporters that the reason why he benched D’Angelo Russell again was because Jordan Clarkson, a second year guard that the Los Angeles Lakers are really high on, had recovered from a sprained ankle that sidelined him for a couple of games. Russell had replaced Clarkson in the starting line during that stretch. Scott is hoping that the former Ohio State Buckeyes star can mentally handle the situation for the rest of the year. The head coach feels that D’Angelo can become a much better player next year if he can get through this test.
Do you think D’Angelo Russell can mentally handle the test that Byron Scott is putting him through this season?
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