Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott is not afraid to call out his younger players if he feels like it will help them in the long run. Scott felt guard D'Angelo Russell wasn't playing team ball late in Tuesday's 92-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, benching the rookie after he launched an ill-advised three-pointer, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com.
"I saw the last couple minutes that he was in that he was really trying to take over the game, and that's not him yet," Scott said after the defeat. "I want the ball to move a little bit. I thought it stuck with him. He tried to make the big shots and things like that. I understand that, but to me, that's not him right now."
Late in the third quarter of the game Russell hit this challenged three-pointer that was an example of what Scott was referring to, per NBA TV:
Russell is producing in his first season, averaging 12.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, but he is shooting a less than optimal 41.7 percent from the floor.
While Scott is happy Russell is looking to score, he needs to find a balance, per Holmes: "He's been more aggressive to score. I think sometimes he's taking what they're giving him, and I think there's other times where I think he's kind of forcing the issue. He has to find a happy medium. He's learning."
|D'Angelo Russell Splits|
|Before Jan. 1||33||11.8||4.2||3.3||2.3|
|After Jan. 1||12||13.3||2.3||3.3||2.7|
Russell, who will play in the NBA All-Star Weekend Rising Stars Challenge, didn't seem too happy with the benching, per Holmes: "I feel like I was taking advantage of what they were giving me. It was a small split window of taking a shot or passing it up with a shot-clock violation on the line. It was always in my hands and I had to take a shot. I missed it. I don't know if [Scott] would've said that if I was making those shots."
The rookie has not been shy when it comes to his game, telling the media, "Y'all ain't seen nothing yet. The world hasn't seen anything yet," after scoring a career-high 27 points on Jan. 7 in a loss to the Sacramento Kings, per Holmes. However, Scott told Holmes that while he doesn't think Russell has reached a level of cockiness yet, overconfidence can be a hindrance:
I think he's pretty close. I don't think he's there. I just think he feels right now that he's got a lot of confidence in himself. Like I said, that's a good thing. You don't get this far without having that. And sometimes you don't get this far without having a little cockiness, as well. But you don't want that to overshadow the confidence that he has.
I think when you get cocky, you're thinking that there's nothing that you can't do. And if you think that, then you stop working.
The Lakers take the court again on Thursday at home against the Chicago Bulls in what has been a trying 9-38 season. As veteran superstar Kobe Bryant finishes his farewell tour, young players like Russell will need to become leaders of this team.
Scott obviously doesn't think he's ready to be one just yet, but sometimes it takes tough love to get there.