With 24 hours until Opening Night, the question remains whether D’Angelo Russell will be the starting point guard when the Los Angeles Lakers suit up against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday evening at Staples Center. Head coach Byron Scott said Russell has had a great few days of practice, and has been noticeably more aggressive and energetic, since Scott brought it to his attention over the weekend.
So, what is it that Scott is weighing when deciding whether to anoint Russell as the starting point guard?
“It’s really all based on his developing, it really has nothing to do with anything else,” responded Scott when asked about Russell starting. “I’m trying to figure out what’s best for him right now. And obviously, what’s best for him is, in my mind, probably what’s best for the team as well.”
As Russell’s been doing since the start of training camp, he again stayed late after Tuesday’s practice to get shots up, for at least 45 minutes. Kobe Bryant said he doesn’t need to teach the rookie about work ethic, his responsibility is more about the details of the game.
“My responsibility is just to kind of show him the little intricacies of the game. Making the right reads with certain match-ups that he might have,” Bryant said before detailing an example of how to guard Andre Miller. “To educate him on some of these little tendencies that I’ve known since I’ve been in the league.”
Bryant (officially listed as “probable” for Wednesday) voiced little concern about his leg contusion, instead relying on his past seven months of training to get him ready for the regular season. On the balance of youth and veteran experience on the roster and whether the playoffs are a possibility, Bryant said it all depends on how they tackle the learning curve.
“It depends on how quickly we pick up the game. All depends on the learning curve,” Bryant responded to a question about whether the Lakers can make the playoffs. “You can say but so much, but once you get out there and start playing, and you have to travel and you have to get into it on the road and kind of work through the nuances of the schedule, that’s when you really learn, so it’s just a matter of how quickly you figure those things out.”
Marcelo Huertas practiced in full on Tuesday, after missing Monday’s practice to rest his hamstring, and is expected to be available Opening Night. Larry Nance, Jr. did not practice, due to right knee tendinitis and is officially listed as “doubtful” for the opener.
The Lakers kick off the regular season on Wednesday, October 28th against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center at 7:00 PM PST.