The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled out of the gate in the 2015-16 regular season. The team is 0-4 and ranks 27th in net rating, being outscored by an average of 12.2 points per-100 possessions. Among the few positives of the season has been the play of the team's 2014 draft picks, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson tied his career high in scoring on Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets and Randle has shown why the team was so thrilled to have him fall to them at 7th overall, alternating between physically punishing opposing power forwards and blowing by them off of the dribble.
Notably missing from that list of young players is 2015 second overall pick D'Angelo Russell. While the Ohio State product has shown flashes of the passing skill that made him such a highly touted prospect, for the most part he has looked like an over-matched 19-year old playing in his first NBA games (probably because he is).
According to Bill Oram of the OC Register, Kobe Bryant has noticed this and attempted to help:
Russell's first week of the regular season was fraught with frustration. He has been outperformed in three of the four games by other lottery picks.
Those around the Lakers regularly discuss the steep learning curve Russell faces in orchestrating an NBA offense, playing at a faster pace than ever before and against better opponents.
Recognizing this, Kobe Bryant told Russell to show up early to the team's morning shootaround Sunday. The two sat and watched film for an hour, Bryant pointing out situations when Russell didn't make the proper play, and offering insight on how to run the team.
"Ever since that meeting I feel better already, just as far as running the team," Russell said.
Scott said that impromptu film session said as much about Bryant as it did about Russell.
"He knows that he has to pass the torch one of these days," Scott said, "and he knows one of his biggest advantages to a lot of these guys is experience and giving them any bits and pieces that he can is going to be a gigantic help to them."
This is the type of veteran mentoring fans hoped to see from Bryant in his 20th season, and it is nice to see a guard that brought the Lakers so much past success try to help a potential successor succeed in the future. Oram's entire report is worth checking out, with more details on how Russell is handling outside criticism of his play and Byron Scott preaching patience with the young guard.