5 LA Lakers Players Who Will Thrive Under Byron Scott
There are a couple of players who should thrive under new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott.
More specifically, guards will enjoy their time under the tutelage of Scott. In his previous stops, he’s put the ball in the hands of his backcourt players and gotten them to perform quite well.
Scott-led teams have always favored the transition game and relied on the decision making of their backcourt players. It’s probably safe to say Scott won’t waver from his core principles and will run the offense through his guards. Let’s take a look at the specific Lakers that should enjoy good seasons under Scott. This list is compiled in ascending order.
5. Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson demonstrated during Summer League play that he could certainly emerge as a quality point guard. He did a good job of running his team and creating scoring opportunities, which leads one to believe Clarkson might be able to replicate that as a rotation player for the Lakers.
Why rank him so low? It’s a two-fold answer. The players listed ahead of him are far more experienced and should have an easier time grasping Scott’s requirements. Clarkson still has to get accustomed to the speed of the NBA game, and that could take him a while especially if he’s not getting minutes because he’s stuck behind more talented players.
The second reason is plain old health. I believe Kobe Bryant (knee and Achilles) and Steve Nash (back) will come back and play during the majority of the 2014-15 campaign despite missing most of last season. In turn, that doesn’t leave much playing time for Clarkson.
If Kobe or Nash were to get sidelined, Clarkson will be thrust into the rotation and will get an opportunity to flash his skills and produce.
4. Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin will enjoy his time playing for Scott. Lin, who was acquired via trade during the offseason, loves to push the ball out in transition and attack defenders for scores at the basket. In the half court, Lin will operate as spot-up shooter and occasional playmaker.
He’s not great at running an offense, but if given the ball with free rein, Lin usually looks good. Scott will empower Lin to do what he does best likely as the primary second-unit ball-handler.
He should do wonders in pick-and-rolls as well, given his willingness to look for his teammates. Basketball-Reference.com tells us Lin is averaging 6.4 assists per 36 minutes during his career. Perhaps "Linsanity" will make an appearance in L.A., even though Lin himself has tried to shy away from it according to the L.A. Times' Mike Bresnahan.
3. Nick Young
Nick Young will probably spend some time at small forward and 2-guard next season, and the dual positions should give him a multitude of opportunities to produce.
Young will play starter minutes and likely back up Kobe Bryant. With Kobe on the bench, the coaching staff will rely on Young’s off-the-dribble creativity to help the Lakers score.
He’s an aggressive player that enjoys attacking his defender one-on-one, and Scott will emphasize that aspect of his game. Young will be called upon to make decisive moves and quickly attack, and I believe he will be able to make the adjustment (Young has a tendency to comport himself like a playground player).
He averaged career highs in points (17.9) and assists (1.5) last season in the fast-paced system of former Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni, and he should enjoy similar success with Scott.
2. Steve Nash
When healthy, Steve Nash is one of the best point guards in the league. I’m confident that will remain true during the 2014-15 campaign despite the fact he will be 40 years old by the time the season tips off.
Nash has only appeared in a combined 65 games in the last two years, but he’s been good when available. Per Basketball Reference, Nash has averaged 13.7 points and 7.8 assists per 36 minutes on 47.8 percent shooting from the field since joining the Lakers.
He should be able to reproduce those numbers for Scott and give the Lakers the kind of guard play they need. Nash is ranked this high because he balances the offense with his passing and shooting. The combination of both will make him a key contributor and a practically indispensable cog in the Lakers machine.
Only one backcourt Lakers player will enjoy a better year…
1. Kobe Bryant
It’s probably safe to say the Lakers were already going to revolve around Kobe Bryant’s talents, but the hiring of Scott transformed whatever assumptions anyone might have had into fact.
If Scott implements the Princeton Offense, there might not be a team in the league capable of even slowing down Kobe. In a Brazilian interview, he offered that his health stood at “100 percent,” and Bryant previously demonstrated that he was practically unstoppable in Scott’s offense.
Bryant will get the lion’s share of the load, which will give him an opportunity to put up numbers and make impact plays. Kobe should have one of the most efficient seasons of his career because he’ll be operating a little more off the ball, where he is devastatingly efficient.
Expect the Lakers guards to make some noise next season.