Byron Scott removed D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle from the Lakers’ starting lineup.
At least on one level, the move makes sense. The young players need minutes away from Kobe Bryant, who hijacks the offense with his insistence on taking as many bad shots as possible.
Sure, maybe it’d be better to reign in Kobe – but Scott is absolutely opposed to that, whether it’s curtailing Kobe’s shot selection or his playing time. The next-best alternative was probably continuing to start Russell and Randle and altering the rotation to stagger their minutes with Kobe, but that might be too complex for Scott to handle.
So, Russell and Randle went to the bench. That’ll make it easier for Scott to play them without Kobe.
But Russell and Randle – who were each averaging 28 minutes per game as a starter – played only 21 minutes a piece in their first game as reserves, a loss to the Raptors last night.
And that won’t be an aberration.
Baxter Holmes of ESPN:
On the bright side, Russell got 12 minutes without Kobe against the Raptors – up from five per game when starting together. Randle got 14 minutes without Kobe, up from six per game when they stared together.
But Russell and Randle played just five minutes each with Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers’ other highly promising youngster. The trio shared the court for only two.
Russell and Randle need minutes, ideally with Clarkson and without Kobe. But most of all, they need minutes. Generally, the more they get within reason, the better they’ll develop. I don’t know the exact line, but they’ve clearly shown they can handle more than 25 per night.
There’s no use getting worked up about a game here or there where once plays less. Every once in a while, sitting is actually useful for a young player.
But to regularly and purposefully keep these two on the bench for half the game or more – it’s crazy.