Two games into his rookie season, D’Angelo Russell’s play has become as much discussion as the Lakers’ struggles as a whole. The guard has as many assists (four) as turnovers.
After scoring 13 points and only turning the ball over once against Sacramento, Russell showed fewer nerves and more improvement in head coach Byron Scott’s eyes, especially in his decision making.
“He’s 19 years old and played in two professional games. It’s going to take a while to understand what this league is all about,” Scott said.
Kobe Bryant said last night that Russell’s struggles reminded him of his own rookie year as an 18-year old coming mostly off the bench in limited minutes. While Scott, who played alongside Bryant that year, added that being a reserve was different than Russell being a starter, he too noticed similarities mainly with age and expectations.
“It’s very rare for a guy at 18 or 19 to come in and light it up,” Scott said.
Russell is not the only young player going through struggles. Julius Randle followed his double-double in the season opener with a quieter outing Friday as he battled foul trouble. Scott expects his team to battle through the growing pains but he also empathized by recalling his own struggles his rookie year.
Along with Jordan Clarkson, Scott hoped that his team would keep working to get better and push through the wall of inexperience.
“You have three guys on the starting team right now that have been thrown into the fire and they’re going to learn. It might be some hard lessons but they’re going to learn,” Scott said.