Records: Lakers 9-41, Last in the West; Timberwolves 14-35, 14th in the West
Offensive ratings: Lakers 96.6, 29th in NBA; Timberwolves 101.7, 23rd in the NBA
Defensive ratings: Lakers 108.2, Last in the NBA; Timberwolves 105.3, 22nd in the NBA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Clarkson, Williams, Anthony Brown, Randle, Hibbert
Timberwolves: Rubio, Wiggins, Tayshaun Prince, Gorgui Dieng, Karl Anthony-Towns
The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have tied their franchise worst 10 game losing streak. They have also lost 14 of their last 15 games and 16 of their last 20. I could go on, but you get the point. The losing has been bad and, to make matters worse, the L’s have been by large margins.
All of the losing has stirred up the ongoing themes of player development and what is the best way to handle the rotations with all these losses piling up. After all, if the team is losing, why not change things up and start to focus more on the young players? Byron Scott says D’Angelo Russell will be inserted back into the starting group eventually, hinting it will happen after the all-star break. That hasn’t appeased many people, though. In fact, Scott has come under fire recently, from former UCLA star and current Clipper announcer Don McLean, for how he has handled Russell’s development this season.
Excellent summaries of this very public spat can be found here, by Dan Devine and here by Kurt Helin so I will spare you the specifics. They also offer some very level headed thoughts on the matter so I would read what they have to say. Really, go do it, we’ll be here when you get back. My thoughts on this are pretty simple, but can best be summed up with a few short bullet points:
- I don’t know what Scott says or does behind the scenes in supporting and developing players, so it’s important to acknowledge that we can only know so much.
- What we do know is heavily influenced by Scott’s public comments.
- Scott’s public comments, about Russell specifically, have skewed negative multiple times over the course of the season.
- Some of Russell’s recent comments imply he’s struggling, not only in his play but in his understanding of how to improve and with the lines of communication between himself and the coach.
- The foundation of any good player/coach relationship is communication. The foundation of any good coaching is communication.
- If Byron Scott is struggling to communicate with Russell or any of the other players — young or veteran — he must find a way to break through that. Communication is a two-way street, but if your tactics are not working with a player, finding ways to make it work are more on the coach. This is especially true with young players who need more guidance and direction, especially in their first couple of seasons while they are learning the league.
Again, I do not know what is happening behind the scenes, but there needs to be improvement here. And, yes, I’m putting the onus on the coach to make those inroads. Especially when what I am seeing, publicly, implies he has room to improve his approach.