Heading into the game against the New York Knicks, Luke Walton said that D’Angelo Russell had earned more minutes because of his recent play. Then, the game happened, he played 20 minutes in a blowout win and fans handled it about as would be expected.
When asked about that low minute total, Russell responded in a thoughtful, mature manner. This, via Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:
A lot of folks in my mentions upset that D'Angelo Russell's minutes dipped in win over Knicks. Here's what Russell said about it: pic.twitter.com/vpfUuFYIUe— Bill Oram (@billoram) February 7, 2017
All last season, the Los Angles Lakers fan base was tortured with stories of D’Angelo Russell’s immaturity. For some reason, though, a simply question was almost never asked: Was he any more immature than the typical 19-20 year-old? Based on occurrences this year, it’s looking increasingly ridiculous such a question was never asked.
So, as frustrating as it might be — and it’s plenty frustrating — Russell’s minutes are going to remain tied not only to his play, but to how the rest of the team is performing. Success on the court will dictate who plays and when, though according to Walton, the Lakers will lean increasingly on the kids. What will remain unclear, however, is which of the kids they’ll stick with on any given night.
The good news in all this: Whether it’s veterans like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov who’ll play decreasing roles or members of the young core jostling for more minutes, everyone seems to be on the same page. So long as that remains true, everything else can fall into play organically.