This year for the Lakers has been one like no other. With the inevitable retirement of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers are poised to have the worst record in franchise history. Almost certainly, Kobe’s farewell tour has impacted Los Angeles’ season, with the focus being on reflection as opposed to winning. With such a young roster, immaturity throughout the season is almost guaranteed, and D’Angelo Russell is now in the center of it.
Recently, a video got leaked of Russell filming a conversation between him and Nick Young, who seems unaware that he’s being filmed. The exchange is about how Swaggy P met a young girl at a club, despite being engaged to Iggy Azalea for almost a year. According to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes and Marc Stein, Russell’s teammates are not pleased. It’s been reported that many other Lakers are “isolating” Russell and their trust in dwindling; the tension among the team played a part in the Lakers’ 48-point loss to Utah on Monday.
Team officials are not intervening, and while it was childish for Russell to record a conversation between Young and himself, all the blame can’t be put on the rookie.
Would this have happened if Russell was with another organization in a different city? It’s hard to tell, but the dysfunctionality in LA is partly to blame for Russell not growing up faster. Byron Scott’s inconsistency with Russell in the rotation can be added to that. Many people in-and-around the Lakers see D’Angelo as the franchise’s next superstar, but Scott simply isn’t giving him enough minutes consistently.
For the season as a whole, Russell is averaging 13.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Over the last ten games, he averaged 26.4 minutes per game. And if you’re looking to develop Russell into a franchise player, he should be seeing close to 40, or 42 minutes per game (For comparison: Karl Towns, 37.7; Devin Booker, 37.6).
Nick Young is having his worst statistical season as a pro, shooting just 34% from the field and scoring 7.3 points per game.
With just seven games left in the season, it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the situation transpires.