Kobe Bryant drives on Kings guard Ben McClemore as teammate Roy Hibbert sets a screen during first half of a game at Staples Center on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell drives to the basket for a layup during the first half of a game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Kobe Bryant drives past Kings guard Ben McClemore during the first half of a game at Staples Center on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers Coach Byron Scott looks on as guard Jordan Clarkson moves the ball up the court against Kings guard Darren Collison during the second half of a game on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Kobe Bryant offers a subtle tap to teammate Anthony Brown as he leaves the court during second half of the Lakers’ 112-93 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers center Brandon Bass tries in vain to save the ball from going out of bounds during the second half of the Lakers’ 112-93 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lou Williams, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell sit on the bench during the final minutes of the Lakers’ 112-93 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers teammates D’Angelo Russell, right, and Jordan Clarkson share a moment of support during a break in the action against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 20.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins is swarmed by Lakers Kobe Bryant, left, Roy Hibbert and Julius Randle during the first half at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Does D’Angelo Russell need to put on weight?
He’s only 19, still growing into his body at 6 feet 5 and 195 pounds, but Lakers Coach Byron Scott wants to see him in the weight room after this season.
Russell isn’t getting “bounced around” by opposing guards but other things on the court catch Scott’s eye.
“I do see them doing little tricks of the trade that kind of throw him off balance,” Scott said. “A lot of that, you can work on in the weight room.”
Does Russell need to add 10 pounds? Fifteen?
“I don’t know if 15 more pounds would be good for him right now. When he’s 23 or 24, that 15 pounds will come gradually and it’ll suit his body at that time,” Scott said. “Going into the summer, do we want him to get stronger? Yes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put on weight. It’s just getting in the weight room, and he’s got to be very diligent in doing that this summer. It’s a commitment that you have to have. I went through it. He’s got to go through it.”
It’s a tough balance in a league where speed and outside touch in the backcourt have become bigger weapons than using strength to post up, a la Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Russell appeared to have a breakthrough with 27 points two weeks ago against Sacramento, proclaiming, “Y’all ain’t seen nothing yet.” In a rematch Wednesday at Staples Center, he was having an off shooting night.
Scott’s view on Russell remains bullish overall. He tries to see the bigger picture.
“Every month, we take a pretty good assessment on where our guys are. And every month he’s improved on both ends of the floor,” Scott said. “It’s not a big giant jump, but it’s just small gradual improvement. That’s what I want.”
The second pick in the draft was averaging 11.9 points and 3.4 assists before Wednesday. His stats could be better, or could be worse, but Scott wanted more development in Russell’s technique on defense.
“Containing is the biggest thing. You’re going against point guards that are so good and so quick nowadays that if you give them any type of angle, they take it,” Scott said. “He just tends to drop his back foot and that guy has that angle to just go by him.”
The Lakers’ off-season is a little more than 2½ months away.
Everyone knows Julius Randle needs to work on his outside shot, day after day, in an empty gym. It will be an important time for Russell too.
“It’s all about how committed he’s going to be for next year,” Scott said. “Knowing this kid, I know how he is, so I know he’ll get in there and do the work that you have to do in the weight room as well as on the basketball court.”
Bryant has the third-most popular NBA jersey, the league said Wednesday.
Bryant trailed only Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Cleveland’s LeBron James. New York rookie Kristaps Porzingis was fourth. Specific sales numbers were not released by the league.
Bryant, in his 20th and final NBA season, was sixth in jersey popularity at the end of last season.
Strengthened by action on Bryant’s jersey, the Lakers were the fourth-most popular team in merchandise sales despite their sad record. Golden State, Chicago and Cleveland are the league’s most popular teams.
Results were based on NBA.com store sales from Oct. 15 to Dec. 15.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan