Point guards are sometimes referred to as "coach's on the floor." As the player responsible for bringing the ball up the court and handling it the majority of the time, it often falls to the point guard to make sure the other four players on the team get enough touches to be happy. This set of expectations cannot be easy on D'Angelo Russell as a 19-year old playing with grown men for the first time, but the Los Angeles Lakers young point guard is focused on improving in this area.
"Just trying to be a young leader on this team," Russell told Time Warner Cable Sportsnet sideline reporter Mike Trudell after the Lakers victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. "We've got a lot of guys that lead by example, and don't really try to lead vocally, but if we lead by example, and we've got somebody that leads vocally, it just pans out good, we get a win."
Lakers head coach Byron Scott thinks Russell has the stuff to be a leader of a team one day.
"I think in order to be a leader you have to be able to lead by example, so in practice, in games, you have to be the hardest worker. That's why Kobe [Bryant] was such a great leader, and everybody leads differently," Scott told reporters. "Magic [Johnson] was an unbelievable leader. [Russell] has the personality to be a leader, but at 19 you really can't figure it out, it just has to kind of come natural. I think with him, his communication on the floor is natural, but the leadership part you've got to earn that from your teammates."
Russell has the highest usage rate of any Lakers' player over the past five games as he has been given more responsibility to take the reins of the offense. The rookie guard is shooting 40.2% on his way to 17.4 points per game over that span, as well as 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds. Russell will continue to grow as the season goes on, but already taking the initiative to want to lead a team on which he is the youngest player has to be a good sign for his future potential.
All quotes transcribed via TWC Sportsnet and stats per NBA.com