D'Angelo Russell's progress draws Coach Byron Scott's notice

D'Angelo Russell's progress draws Coach Byron Scott's notice
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

D'Angelo Russell keeps growing a little here and a little there, enough to catch the attention of Lakers Coach Byron Scott.

It hasn't merely been his surge on offense. There's been other progress the last few weeks.


Scott criticized Russell last month for messing around too much at practice. It wasn't taken seriously enough, Scott thought.

"He works harder in practice now," Scott said Thursday after the team's morning shoot-around. "I think the light for him has kind of come on. Before we start practice, he's a little bit of a clown at times, he has his fun, which is great.

"When he starts practice, he's serious. He works. As long as he can separate the two, I'm good with it."

Scott wasn't done with the Russell raves. He compared the rookie's practice habits favorably to those of a young Kyrie Irving, whom Scott coached when Irving was a rookie in Cleveland.

"[Russell] doesn't necessarily enjoy being here 30 minutes earlier than everybody, but he does it. When practice is over he stays on the floor, he stays out here and he gets more shots up and he works on his game," Scott said. "You've got to love that about him."

Scott hasn't gone completely soft.

Long before Tuesday's game against Orlando, Russell sat at half-court, leaned back to gain momentum and banked in a shot. Scott saw it as it made the rounds on social media.

"I wasn't really impressed about it," he said. "If you do it every day for about 20 shots, you're going to make one sooner or later."

Summer league?

Scott wants all five young Lakers to participate in the NBA's summer league in July, but it's not clear that will happen.

Jordan Clarkson will be a restricted free agent at the time and likely negotiating his next contract. He can sign an offer sheet with another team for up to $57.8 million over four years, though the Lakers can match it.

Julius Randle leads all second-year players in double-doubles and might also skip the extra time in Las Vegas, the summer league's annual site.

"I haven't really thought about it. I'd probably want to see how much my body needs to recover," he said.

Russell seemed up for playing the five games the Lakers are guaranteed in the current format.

"I think it would be cool if we all had the same mentality and treat it like it's the season and not like we're just going to go out there and 'get ours,'" he said. "If we treat it like it's a game and we can learn each other's personalities and chemistry, I don't mind. We've got some noise to make."

Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown are expected to participate, along with whomever the Lakers draft if they keep their top-three protected pick after the May 17 lottery. The Lakers also hold a high second-round pick, currently 32nd overall.

The Lakers were a surprisingly poor 1-4 last July even though Russell, Randle and Clarkson played.

"I would think they want to play just [because of] the fact we only won one game last summer league," Scott said. "You would want to come in and say, 'We're much better in that now than we were then, and let's go to Vegas and prove it and show everybody that we're ready to take that next step.'"

Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan