The Los Angeles Lakers invested in the future of their franchise by drafting D'Angelo Russell second overall this past summer, but it hasn't gone as smoothly as he would like.
Russell made only 3-of-10 shots in 25 minutes off the bench in Friday's 105-93 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Lakers' rookie point guard talked about criticism he's received in his first year in the league.
"LeBron still gets criticism," Russell said, per ESPN's Baxter Holmes. "Jesus still gets criticized."
The former Ohio State Buckeyes star has been in and out of the starting lineup in his first year playing under head coach Byron Scott. Indeed, Russell has started only 22 of the 47 games he's played in, averaging 12 points and 3.3 assists per game.
The bulk of the criticism Russell has received has come from the Lakers themselves, notably from head coach Byron Scott. He called out Russell after Thursday's game against the Chicago Bulls, saying the rookie was "lackadaisical" with the basketball, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.
"Very, very bad start, for sure," Scott said after Thursday's game, per Holmes. "Again, just way too loose with the ball. Just too lazy with it right now."
Scott also benched Russell in the final two minutes and 31 seconds of Tuesday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks because the coach felt he was "trying to take over" the game.
Russell, however, admitted that it's been a difficult transition to being a full-time point guard as that was not his primary position in college.
"I got to this level & [point guard] was just thrown at me," Russell said Thursday, per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. "It's something you've got to adjust to. It's [the] hardest position in this league."
Russell went on to say that he felt after Thursday's performance that he does not deserve to be promoted back into the starting lineup. "I take the blame for a little bit of that," he said, per Pincus. "I've just got to be better."
The Lakers are now 9-40 after Friday's loss to the Clippers, so it's been an off year all around for the Lakers and not just Russell. He's too talented to let this slump get the best of him. It hasn't helped that Scott has been inconsistent with Russell in the lineup.
Russell's expectations are heightened because of the team he plays for, the legend he's replacing (Kobe Bryant) and the pedigree of winning the Lakers have become accustomed to.
In time, he'll find his way. Russell is at least saying all the right things at the moment. That's a good sign for a young player at his age.
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