It’s not much of a secret that D’Angelo Russell had a hard time with his coach Byron Scott. The Los Angeles Lakers rookie and No. 2 overall pick often seemed confused by what Scott wanted. Russell would mention often during the first couple months that what he was doing wrong or how he could improve wasn’t being explained to him by his coach. There were real communication issues between Scott and Russell, and at times it felt like the coach was almost hazing the rookie to try to make him tougher.
Scott is gone now and Luke Walton has replaced him. Walton has a much different personality and approach to this coaching profession, although he’s also a first-time, full-time coach. It will be a different experience for the Lakers this year, compared to last season, and at least for Russell it sounds like it’s a big improvement on the relationship between he and his new coach. He talked about how accessible Walton is and how helpful he’s already been. Via Lakers Nation:
“He’s been great. He’s one of the best people I know as far as off the court. We communicate on an off the court as much as possible. I feel like I can call him any time. He’s not like a head coach who will sit back and watch his other coaches and colleagues just train other players. He’s always involved. He’ll get out there and play with you if he wants. It’s just great to have a young coach like him in the building.”
This is the way it’s supposed to be, right? You communicate with your coach, build a working relationship, and earn each other’s trust in the process. We didn’t see that with the Lakers last season outside of Scott and Kobe Bryant on his farewell tour. Perhaps Scott was in a tough position trying to manage the nightly honoring of Kobe while still trying to get young players to develop, but everything coming from the people telling the Lakers story seemed to paint a poor picture of how Scott handled his duties.
Russell also wasn’t perfect by any means. The stories of his immaturity should be taken into consideration, and it’s all highlighted by the Nick Young fiasco. But overall, mentoring, coaching and testing should have a balance in the coaching profession and Scott never seemed to exhibit an understanding of that. That shouldn’t be the case with Walton, but we won’t know until we see him in action in L.A.
Source: CBS Sports / D’Angelo Russell seems to love having Luke Walton as Lakers’ new coach