Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell may have come off the bench in the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the two played down the stretch when it mattered, with Russell even hitting a game tying jumper to send the Lakers into overtime. The young duo earned the playing time with their strong play but also because Kobe Bryant vouched for them, reportedly telling Lakers head coach Byron Scott "coach, let em go. Let's see what they do."
Bryant's vote of confidence did not go unnoticed by the young Lakers' duo. "It's an honor," Russell told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News."He easily could've told coach he wanted that shot to add to his collection."
"I would've loved to have Kobe out there, he's huge in those clutch moments," said Randle, as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation, "but the fact that he trusted us, that says a lot about us." So could Bryant transition from his playing career to a head coaching position like his friend and New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher? Randle and Russell sound like they would vouch for his credentials:
D'Angelo on last shot in OT: "Kobe was coaching me thru it the whole time he was just saying you've got that mid-range whenever you want it"— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 10, 2015
Julius Randle on Kobe coaching: "If he wanted to, he'd be pretty good at it after tonight. He was patient tonight, it was good!" (on TWC)— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 10, 2015
Mike Trudell of Lakers.com had some insight into the type of advice Bryant was giving the young guys:
1/2: Coming off the floor after missing the last J, Russell said to Kobe: "Hey man, you've made plenty of those ... It felt good, man."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 10, 2015
2/2: Kobe responded to Russell: "Listen, I missed plenty of them too. It's your first shot but it won't be your last. On you go."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 10, 2015
Kobe has said many times over the years that he has no interest in coaching, but if he is willing to take on a player-coach type mentorship role with the Lakers' youth this season it could potentially have a big impact on their careers going forward.