The Los Angeles Lakers are heading toward a brighter future after winning the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, but a piece of their darker history can't seem to let go of an issue.
Byron Scott's time with the Lakers as a player was glorious, but his time as a head coach was the opposite. LA hit new franchise lows while he led the team, winning just 17 games in his final season before being replaced by current head coach Luke Walton.
Scott is busy making media rounds while he promotes his newly-released book. Byron joined Mark Medina of the LA Daily News' podcast and rehashed one of the biggest points he stressed while coaching the Lakers: D'Angelo Russell's poor work ethic.
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Byron was in command of the Lakers while they transitioned from contending with teams built around Kobe Bryant to trying to rebuild from the ground up as the Black Mamba sailed into the sunset. That left him in charge of developing both Julius Randle and Russell, which didn't go smoothly.
Both lottery talents struggled to find their place in Scott's rotations, having their roles as starters taken from them while the team stumbled through the season. One of Scott's pain points with Russell was his work ethic, and he reiterated that point once again to Medina.
“I don’t know if [Russell's] work ethic has gotten any better. Some of the people I’ve talked to in the organization said that it hasn’t. I just wish him all the best. The maturity level will catch up to him sooner or later when he realizes it’s an honor and a privilege to be in the NBA and be in the position that he’s in. He has to take full advantage of it," Scott told Medina.
It's not the first time questions have risen regarding D'Angelo's work ethic and habits, but he's also still just 21 years old and finding his way as both an adult and professional basketball player. For what it's worth, Russell has been attending voluntary workouts at the Lakers' training facility over recent days.
He's also looking pretty buff nowadays:
One of the problems Scott ran into as head coach was his inability to communicate effectively with a younger generation of talent. His old school mentality clashed with the modern NBA, and while someone like Kobe could appreciate the hard-line mentality, it didn't resonate with the youth.
The Lakers are also overhauling their entire athletics department, announcing Wednesday that they hired famed celebrity and athlete personal trainer Gunnar Peterson to lead their renewed fitness vision under Magic Johnson. If Russell has work ethic problems, the front office is on track to address them.