D'Angelo Russell had perhaps his worst game of the month during the Los Angeles Lakers' Thursday night loss to the Chicago Bulls. Overall it has been a strong month for the rookie point guard so far, as Russell ranks third on the team in Net Rating in January, with the Lakers only being outscored by just 0.6 points per 100 possessions during his time on the floor, the best ranking on the team among players playing more than 10 minutes per game. Not bad for the youngest player on a team in the midst of an eight game losing streak.
Thursday was a different story for Russell. After being benched and criticized by Lakers head coach Byron Scott on Tuesday for trying to take over the Lakers' loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Russell made a noticeable effort to involve his teammates more against Chicago. The results were mixed. Russell managed 4 assists in his 24 minutes of floor time, but also turned the ball over 3 times, and his coach was not happy about it:
Byron on D'Angleo: "Very, very bad start, for sure. Again, just way too loose with the ball. Just too lazy with it right now."— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) January 29, 2016
Unlike on Tuesday, Russell didn't disagree with his coach's assessment, and acknowledged that he needs to improve:
Russell said he has to stop playing "lackadaisical." Added: "Just have to take every rep like its your last." Which seems kinda intense— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 29, 2016
The good news is Russell hasn't given up, and is ready to put in the work necessary to get better.
D'Angelo Russell (1):"I've never really played point guard in my life.I went to college,I was a basketball player; I played every position."— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 29, 2016
Russell (2):"I got to this level & pg was just thrown at me, it's something you've got to adjust to. It's hardest position in this league."— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 29, 2016
Russell (3): "I'd rather it be hard now than later. I'll figure it out." + "The confidence will always be there."— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 29, 2016
The bad news is, it doesn't sound like he and Scott have the most functional dialogue going on how to do so, according to a halftime report from David Aldridge of TNT (as captured by our Editor-in-Chief, Drew Garrison):
So Aldridge just said D'Angelo has no idea what to ask Byron in order to improve and is completely lost as a point guard currently. Amazing.— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrisonSBN) January 29, 2016
While it's good that Russell wants to go to his coach for help, it's a bad look that he feels like he has to ask for that help through the media, rather than feeling like the knowledge on what he needs to work on has already been provided to him.
Russell has immense potential, however, it will still take coaching to get the most out of it. He is still just 19-years old, and has a lot to learn before he will be able to succeed in the NBA. Maybe this was just an offhand quote from D'Angelo, but if Byron Scott isn't teaching him, it might be time for the Lakers to bring in someone who will.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.