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Byron Scott says he'll bench young players if he doesn't see defensive improvement

D'Angelo Russell and other members of the Lakers young core might soon find themselves on the pine.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his team being on pace to land in the bottom-five in defensive efficiency for the fifth consecutive season, Byron Scott still defines himself as a defensive minded head coach. With a relatively young roster and what little veterans they do have not being known for their defensive prowess (with the exception of Roy Hibbert), the Los Angeles Lakers have understandably not looked great on the defensive end of the floor.

Earlier this week Scott told the media that he would put wins this season ahead of the development of the young roster, and the Lakers head coach stuck to that position when speaking with reporters before the team's first victory of the season, a 104-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Scott mentioned that he was considering possible changes to the team's rotation, and it sounds like some of those changes could include some of the Lakers young core spending some time on the bench (via Baxter Holmes of

"I think when you make a mistake over and over again, sometimes that wood has a good way of talking to your butt a little bit, too," Scott said Friday before the Lakers' 104-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. "Getting a couple splinters here and there, sometimes that has a great way of communicating how important it is to play on that [defensive] end of the floor."

Scott elaborated on what this could mean specifically for rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell:

Scott was asked whether he was specifically referencing rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, who had been benched in the fourth quarter in two of the team's first four games.

"I'm saying that he has to start getting it, just like the other young guys have to start getting it, and if they don't, they won't play as much," Scott said.


"I don't know about sitting him for games," Scott said. "But I do know that all these guys have to start progressing a little bit faster. Playing time in this league is a very precious thing, and I don't want our guys to take that for granted. So missing assignments on a continuous basis is not going to go unnoticed. You've got to start developing and doing a better job on [the defensive] end of the floor."

While Scott is right that Russell has a lot of work to do to become an NBA level defender, it remains to be seen if taking him off of the floor is the best way to help him improve. Many have argued that playing time is the most valuable tool to help young players improve, but Scott appears to see things differently. This is a situation worth watching as the Lakers' season continues.

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