Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
VIDEO: Byron Scott on the decision to make D’Angelo Russell a starter
> The Lakers say rookie D’Angelo Russell will be in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. Is this a big thing, a little thing, or much ado about nothing?
David Aldridge, TNT analyst: Not a big thing. He was the second pick in the Draft; at some point, you have to put him out there every night. I don’t think it will affect his future in L.A. one way or another. The Lakers have bigger issues to address once the season ends, from the top of the organization on down.
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: It seems like a little Lakers business got put out in the street, with coach Byron Scott‘s attempts to force some discipline and responsibility on Russell (who seemed to feel entitled by his draft position) now yielding to management’s desire to force-feed him minutes. But this is a little deal from a league perspective because the Lakers are a team that, beyond the Kobe Tour, barely registers on the NBA radar in 2015-16. Their next relevant date will be the night of the draft lottery, and if they then can find another piece to put alongside Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, we’ll start paying attention in Las Vegas in July.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Much ado about nothing. While fans may have wanted Russell as a starter from opening night, coach Byron Scott wanted him to learn the ropes a bit before tossing him into the deep end of the pool. He’s not Karl-Anthony Towns and wasn’t going to thrive from Day One.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Much ado about nothing, with a very slight lean toward little thing. Maybe it feels better to him. Maybe it helps his ego. That’s fine. The important thing is that he gets real minutes to develop, and Russell is sixth among rookies in minutes and second in the class in fourth-quarter minutes. He is getting those real minutes.
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: It’s a little thing. Look, we can quibble with how Byron Scott handled Russell so far this season, but we aren’t watching the practices and don’t know all the details about why Russell wasn’t getting prime time minutes. Sometimes, young players need to sit and observe, although I’m not saying that should’ve been the case here. Russell has 20-something remaining games to make his mistakes and give the Lakers more reasons to feel fantastic about his future. If he does that, then his season will be a success.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It’s a good thing, not huge, but not insignificant, either. It gives him more reps with fellow building blocks Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, which will only help down the line. The Lakers need those guys to grow together. Russell and Randle are the future of the franchise and, according to SportVU, they’ve run fewer pick-and-rolls together than Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert, which is silly. The front office should have insisted that Byron Scott make this move earlier, because Russell is obviously going to outlast Scott in L.A.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Unfortunately for Russell (and anyone else in a Lakers uniform this season not named Bryant), this is much ado about nothing. The Lakers relinquished any rights to a meaningful season when they announced that the Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour would supersede anything else that goes on this season in Lakerland. That includes the development of youngsters like Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. It’s a shame, really, because Russell’s development should have been this season’s top priority. Crushing his confidence and regularly tapping his knuckles publicly might have seemed like a good idea to some in L.A. From here, it looks as shortsighted as anything the Lakers have done the past three seasons. If Russell isn’t a foundational player, then the Lakers have basically whiffed on every significant move they’ve made in the Jim Buss era.
Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: This is not a big deal. Too much was made of the decision earlier this season to bring him off the bench – as if it was a mistake to insist that Russell earn his minutes. I appreciate the tough-love approach of Byron Scott, and someday Russell may look back and be grateful for it too.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I think it’s a great thing, at least for Russell. We talked about this a lot on the Hang Time Podcast a few weeks back, but at some point you have to give Russell the opportunity to start and play minutes. Maybe he fails. Maybe he soars. Either way, you owe it to the guy you drafted second overall to at least have a chance to prove himself. And by the way, at this point it’s not like you’re in the playoff race. Let the kid play.