Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell not as mature as a rookie as Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, says Byron Scott
D’Angelo Russell’s youth was again a talking point.
The Lakers rookie was not as mature as two prominent point guards Byron Scott worked with earlier in his NBA coaching career, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, Scott said Wednesday.
Russell is a playful teenager. It’s not unusual for him to make jokes before, during and after practice.
“It is a bad thing at times. There’s always a time to be serious and always a time to joke around,” Scott said before the Lakers lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 120-111. “I’m not saying it’s bad or good, but Chris Paul wasn’t like that. Kyrie was a little bit [playful] but not that much. They’re all different and I accept that.”
Scott coached Irving in Cleveland and Paul in New Orleans when they were rookies. He described them more favorably than Russell, the second pick in last year’s draft.
"[Irving] was just a little bit more mature at 19 [than Russell]. He was a little bit more businesslike at practice and games,” the Lakers coach said. “D’Angelo still has a playfulness about himself. Sometimes at practice he’s joking around and you lose a little bit of focus. But he’s 19, so I understand that. Chris Paul was probably 23 years old at the time when he came in the league, from his mental capacity.”
Irving arrived in the NBA with better offensive skills than Russell and, somewhat surprisingly, Paul too, Scott said.
“Kyrie was a lot farther along [than Russell]. Offensively, there was no weaknesses,” Scott said. “And I haven’t seen that in a 19-year-old since. He was more prepared from an offensive standpoint than Chris Paul was his rookie year. On the defensive end was a different story.”
Russell made three three-point shots in the first half Wednesday and finished with 15 points and three assists.
Scott has hinted about inserting him back into the starting lineup after the All-Star break, which begins Thursday for the Lakers. Scott would not specifically say when the change would happen.
“I’ve got a week in Mexico to just relax and not think about it. I’ll think about it next Wednesday” when practice resumes, Scott said. The Lakers’ first game after the break is Feb. 19 against San Antonio.
Despite owning the NBA’s second-worst record, the Lakers have three players in All-Star events in Toronto.
Kobe Bryant was voted a Western Conference starter for the 18th time in his 20-year career. That game is Sunday.
Russell will be in the Rising Stars Challenge, a game involving first- and second-year players in a “U.S. vs. the world” format Friday.
Jordan Clarkson has the busiest weekend — the Rising Stars Challenge and also the eight-player Skills Challenge, a Saturday competition involving shooting, passing and dribbling drills in an obstacle course.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan
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