Lakers Start Season 2-8, Look Bad Doing It

Jim Buss is not the only problem with the Los Angeles Lakers.   Buss is without a doubt problem number one, but the Lakers have many more.  Here is number two.

Los Angeles Lakers Coach Byron Scott
More Bad Basketball for Los Angeles Lakers
Image Source Victor Decolongon, Getty Images

Lakers coach Byron Scott.  Whatever Scott may have accomplished before as a coach, his approach to coaching is clearly not working now.  If you can call what Scott does coaching.  Against the Knicks the Lakers had the ball, score tied, less than three minutes to play.  No time out,  No play call.  The Lakers waste 20 seconds off the 24 second clock, then throw the ball to their power forward Julius Randle standing behind the three point line for a desperate, contested, forced, 28 foot jump shot that misses badly.   The Knicks grab the rebound, run a good play, and score. Game over.

Scott’s bewildering coaching decisions are a result of his old school one size fits all coaching strategy.  He seems unable, or unwilling, to adapt his offense to his player’s abilities and his team’s makeup.  The offense is usually one player going one on one and trying to score at the end of the clock while four players watch.  At least now it’s not just Kobe Bryant jacking up wild shots all the time.  Now everyone does.

The Lakers offense is woeful at best.   They are shooting 40.8% from the floor while making only 31.6% of their three point shots. The Lakers currently rank 20th in points per game and 25th in assists per game. Their offense at times has looked stagnant, confused, or non existent.

Defensively, the Lakers do things that bad high school teams don’t do. How many uncontested fast break layups have the Lakers already given up? How many times have they been out run and out gunned?   How often have the Lakers looked totally lost on defense? How many wide open uncontested shots can they surrender?

Lakers Rookie D'Angelo Russell
More Bad Basketball for Los Angeles Lakers
Image Source Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

Scott has destroyed the confidence of the Lakers top draft pick, D’Angelo Russell, who they selected with the second overall pick in the draft. Russell currently isn’t even ranked in the top ten of the NBA’s rookie class this year.   Three players the Lakers could have selected are ranked much higher than Russell. Center Jahlil Okafur is ranked #2, power forward Krytaps Porzingus is ranked #3, and fellow point guard Emmanual Mudiay is ranked #7.

Okafur, Porzingis, and Mudiay were all given a vote of confidence by their coaches and organizations. They were told from day one that they are the starters, they are the finishers, and they are the future of their franchises.   Scott has told Russell he might not start, he isn’t going to finish, and he has no future as long as Scott is coach. The other rookies were given the keys and told to take the wheel. Russell is sitting in the back seat wondering when it will be his turn to take control or if he is going to be kicked out of the car. Scott even refused to confirm Russell as the starter the day before the first game of the season.

Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers
More Bad Basketball for Los Angeles Lakers
Image Source Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA Today

Is it any wonder that Russell is the only high draft pick who is playing with the deer in the headlights look? He plays like he knows that any mistake will result in being benched. He looks like he knows he is being scrutinized every second. Russell simply does not have the freedom to perform that other rookies do.

Yes, Jim Buss needs to go.  And Buss needs to take Scott, his third bad hire in a row as Lakers coach, with him.