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Post-Draft Reaction: Byron Scott
Following the Lakers’ selection of D’Angelo Russell, head coach Byron Scott spoke with the media about his team’s newest point guard. Below is a full transcription:
Q: On whether the availability of big men in free agency affected the Lakers’ decision to draft a guard No. 2 overall:
Scott: I think that the decision that was made was basically to take the best guy available. We have a number of holes that we have to fill. Watching D’Angelo work out (and) watching tapes of him at Ohio State, we really felt that this kid was special. So we didn’t necessarily look at positions. We said, “We’ve got so many holes that we need to fill. Let’s take the best player available. Then we’ll deal with the free agent market later on.”
Q: On his impression of Russell’s workouts:
Scott: His workouts were extremely good. Most of the top four or five guys — they only come and work out with nobody else. His one-on-zero workout was pretty impressive; seeing the things that he could do.
But when he came back and he went three-on-three, you saw the leadership qualities that he had. You saw the ability to pass the ball and make other guys better; the ability to get to the basket; the ability to knock down 3’s, open jump shots (and) off-the-dribble shots. He had a pretty good total package offensively. And defensively I thought the one thing that he did (was) compete. So when we brought him in the second time, I was even more impressed.
Q: On his work ethic:
Scott: He has a little edge to himself, anyway. He wants to be great. I think he’s going to be willing to put the work in to do that.
Q: On how he plans to temper Russell’s expectations:
Scott: It’s the same thing with most rookies that get drafted this high: He still has to earn it. He still has to come every day and work his butt off. And obviously that starts with Summer League. We’ll see what we’ve got. We’re pretty sure we’ve got something pretty good in D’Angelo, but he’s going to have to work every day to get better as a basketball players. And he’s going to have to prove that to the veteran guys that’ll be on this team as well. But I have no doubt he’ll do that.
Q: On how involved he was with the selection process:
Scott: (I was) pretty involved. Went through the whole process of the workout. But that’s what I do. That’s what I’ve done everywhere I’ve been. I’ve been pretty involved in the whole situation. Now when it comes down to making the pick, it’s obviously Mitch Kupchak’s choice. But he asked me my opinion. I told him I like D’Angelo Russell. I thought he was the best pick for us I’m just happy that he agreed.
Q: On how difficult it was to pass up on Jahlil Okafor:
Scott: In my mind, it wasn’t an easy decision either way. But it was a decision that, either way we made, we were going to be in pretty good shape. I think Okafor’s going to be a good center in this league. I just think D’Angelo has a chance to be a superstar. That’s just my personal opinion.
Q: On how Russell might play with potential free agents:
Scott: I’m not really thinking about that right now. I’m thinking about the 27th pick, then the 34th pick, then I’ll start thinking about the free agency; then I’ll start thinking about how I’ll use these guys. I think the more talent we can get, the better. That’s the No. 1. And this is a good start for us tonight in getting this young man, because I still think talent-wise he might be the be best player in this draft.
Q: On how Russell will adjust to the NBA:
Scott: I think the first initial challenge every time he goes around the league when he’s playing against some of these other elite point guards is he’s going to find out how good they are. And then hopefully the second time around he’s got a different feel of what they can do on a night-to-night basis. It’s going to be a great experience for him.
But just talking to him, I think the kid’s a sponge. He listens to all the stuff that’s going on. He watches basketball. He got tapes after every game at Ohio State. He’s a basketball junkie. But I think the initial part of just going around the league and playing against some of these great point guards — he’s going to accept the challenge. He’s going to look forward to it. But I think the next time around is when you really find out what kind of basketball player he is from a mental standpoint.
Q: On whether Russell reminds him of anybody from his playing days:
Scott: I don’t know yet. I got to wait to see him on the court in a five-on-five situation going through with everybody else. Just watching him in three-on-three, the way commanded guys to do certain things; the last guy to do that that I played with was Earvin (Magic Johnson). Knowing how to get guys in certain spots in certain situations — he did that in three-on-three with guys that he didn’t know. So obviously we’re interested in what he can do in five-on-five with guys that he’s going to be playing with on a regular basis.
Q: On whether he sees Russell as strictly a point guard:
Scott: I think he’s a guard. I don’t necessarily put labels on the two guys that we have because of the type of style that we play. Either one of those guys can run the offense; I’m talking about Jordan (Clarkson) as well.
With these two guys on the court together, I don’t think you initially say which one’s the point guard and which one’s the off-guard. Whichever one has the ball can run the offense. And that’s the thing that I saw with D’Angelo’s workout: He can play without the ball as well, and he can play without the ball.
Q: On how Russell may compare to the other point guards he has coached:
Scott: I don’t know. I think he could be one of the better ones that I’ve had. Just coming in right now like Chris Paul when he was 19, 20 years old — I think he’s on that level from what I saw so far in the workouts.
Q: On his level of excitement with the young core of Russell, Clarkson and Julius Randle:
Scott: I’m excited. I think Mitch is excited. I think Jimmy (Buss) is excited. I’ve been here every day when our guys have been playing five-on-five, and I’ve seen Julius working out. He looks great. His body looks great just getting up and down the floor. JC’s the same way, and then you add this young kid to the mix as well, so I am excited about this season. We’ve just got to take each step one day at a time. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves right now. That’s the one thing. Like I said, Julius looks really, really good. JC’s taking his game to a different level. But September’s really the telltale sign of everything that’s going on.
Q: On the advice he will give Russell:
Scott: My advice would be to stick as close to Kobe (Bryant) as possible, learn as much as you can from him, but be really willing to come here every day and work your butt off. Just listen to what we’re trying to get you to do, because I have no agenda. My agenda is to win games and get him to be the very best basketball player that he can be. And I have a pretty good track record with some point guards. And then we have one of the best that ever played at the other guard spot. So just come in here with an open mind and ready to learn.
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