As a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, I have seen all of the team’s recent accomplishments, which includes five NBA Championships, multiple 55+ win seasons, and the excellence of one of the greatest players of all time, Kobe Bryant. However, I have also been forced to witness the sorrows of the team, such as the many seasons that end with no playoff berth, several coach firings, and the consecutive season-ending injuries that Kobe has had to endure. I thought I had seen it all, until this season…
The Lakers have begun the season with a pitiful record of 2-9, but that’s not all that the team should be worried about. Along with this horrific start, head coach Byron Scott has been as disappointing as can be in his second year in Los Angeles.
After all that Coach Scott has done for the Lakers franchise as a player and coach, it is unfortunately time to fire him.
Not only has he led the team to just two wins in eleven games, but he has also failed to correctly utilize the Lakers’ young star core of forward Julius Randle, and guards, Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell.
As much as I love Kobe as a player, the team’s offense should no longer be focused on him, but around Los Angeles’ rising stars. Kobe is attempting the most field goals on the team by far, with an average of 16 per game, with half of those attempts being threes. Even though Kobe is shooting a great deal of shots each game, he is only making 34% of them, while Jordan Clarkson, the player with the second most field-goal attempts per game on the team, is making 48% of his 12 attempts per contest.
While the Lakers have had significant struggles on offense, they are not much better on the defensive end. The team is currently allowing an average of 105.5 points per game to opponents, placing them as one of the bottom five teams in the league for points allowed per game.
Byron Scott, who is supposedly known as a “defensive” coach, has failed to fix the Lakers’ defensive problems both last and this season.
The Lakers’ offense and defense have struggled greatly under Scott, but the biggest problem that I have with him as head coach is his handling of rookie starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell.
Russell, the former McDonald’s All-American, Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and number two overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, is not receiving the amount of playing time that a player of his merit deserves. Yes, Russell has had rookie struggles thus far, only averaging ten points, four rebounds and three assists, but that is no excuse for not giving the point guard the minutes that he should be getting.
The Lakers have had numerous close games so far, but Coach Scott continually plays “sixth man” Lou Williams or Nick “Swaggy P” Young ahead of Russell in the fourth quarter crunch time. Russell has not played in the fourth quarter of four games and has averaged just three minutes per game in the final quarter thus far.
Scott has attempted to justify this surprising move by stating that D’Angelo is not yet ready to compete in this type of situation yet and the team needs the players out there that can win the game for them.
This decision makes no sense to me as the Lakers have only won two games and Russell is still sitting on the bench during the pivotal point in the game. If they aren’t going to win many games, I can accept that, but they must play Russell more to give him more experience and confidence, and therefore help their future as a franchise. Scott must choose between winning some meaningless games this season or improving the Lakers’ young core for their upcoming seasons.
Scott was quite influential in the Lakers’ selection of Russell over the Philadelphia 76ers’ third overall pick, rookie center Jahlil Okafor, but he has failed to show the reasoning of this yet. Lakers fans are growing more and more frustrated with their coach, especially when they see Okafor averaging 19 points per game for Philadelphia, and Kristaps Porzingis, the fourth overall pick, averaging nearly a double-double for the New York Knicks, while Russell fails to even touch the court in the fourth quarter for Los Angeles.
Throughout his college career, Russell was often compared to Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden. Harden, the third overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft took many years to reach his full potential as a superstar. While he is now one of the best players in the league, Harden too had struggles as a rookie, only averaging ten points, three rebounds and two assists per game.
D’Angelo Russell is a nineteen-year-old point guard with tons of pressure from teammates, management, and fans to live up to expectations, but it will take patience from both Russell and his supporters in his journey to fulfilling his capabilities as an NBA star.
The Lakers have invested a lot into their young rookie, so they cannot allow Scott to give up on him a month into the season.
I believe that there are various reasons as to why Byron Scott has been fired by three different NBA teams in his career, and sadly, the Lakers must now be the fourth team if they want to get back on track to being the dominant franchise that they once were.