The Los Angeles Lakers had a special visitor watching over practice on Wednesday, the former 1984 NBA Slam Dunk contest champion who spent 13 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers, and father to 22-year-old Lakers rookie, the original Larry Nance.
“He’s trying to get his niche, and his niche is hard work right now. He can do so many things that nobody knows yet,” Nance, Sr. said of his son before going on to talk about his versatility on the offensive end.
Nance Sr. was the first winner of the NBA Slam Dunk contest, and his son said it would be “cool” to follow in his footsteps and enter in the event.Nance, Sr. said he would back him “100 percent” and laughed when remembering what his son used to tell him.
“He said that one day he was going to roll me out in a wheelchair, put me up under the basket, and slam dunk on me!”
Another Lakers rookie is still looking to find his way, No. 2 draft pick D’Angelo Russell.
“He’s trying to find his niche and trying to find out what he can do within the offense to be successful,” Scott said of Russell after Wednesday’s practice. “And as I’ve I told him, I’m not looking for you to average 20 points a game, I’m looking for you to be our facilitator and get everybody where they need to be, but also to be aggressive when you have the opportunity to be aggressive. I think he’s trying to figure out that happy medium.”
Russell has averaged 24.8 minutes, 9.5 points, 2.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.5 turnovers per game in his 11 games as a Laker, but despite starting in every game, more talk has been made about his lack of playing time in fourth quarters than anything else.
The 19-year-old rookie has had a couple stints of closing games late in the fourth, starting with his third NBA game, where he played the final seven minutes of the Lakers’ loss to Dallas and most recently, closed out the Lakers loss to the Suns in Phoenix, but Scott is still working on building that trust with his point guard.
“Players have got to make me want to trust them,” Scott responded when asked about how he builds trust with rookies. “He’s (D’Angelo Russell) one of those guys that I’m getting to that point where I’m trusting him, but I still want him to continue to learn and not try to do things on the fly just try to stick within the system as much as possible.”
Scott also reiterated his faith in Russell and understanding that developing what it takes to be a great point guard in this league is going to take time, especially since Russell must have an in-depth understanding of all the positions on the floor at any given time.
“As a point guard the biggest thing and the hardest thing to overcome is the fact that you’ve got to know where everybody is. It’s just like a quarterback, you’ve got to know where everybody is at all times through the offense. He’s got to know everybody’s spot and that’s tough.”
Kobe Bryant, who voiced his aches and pains after playing 36 minutes in the Lakers win over the Pistons on Sunday, did not practice Wednesday, and instead received treatment. Scott says the plan is for him to participate in Thursday’s practice and be ready for Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center.