The last decade was tough for the Los Angeles Lakers. They went from being one of the best teams in the league to rebuilding, tanking, and not being good enough to compete at their usual level.
The future seemed bright for them, though, as they had landed D'Angelo Russell with the 2nd overall pick.
Then again, as it happens with most young players, he wasn't that good right out of the gate. But instead of letting him grow through his mistakes and develop into the star they thought he'd be, then Lakers coach Byron Scott would often punish him and send him to the bench.
And, while he said that he only wanted the best for him, Russell didn't care for that kind of tough love, as Jake Fischer said in his book “Built To Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever:
"Scott would Russell when he thought the rookie was freelancing instead of settling the table for teammates. He’d offer varying reasons as to why he benched Russell during crunch time situations. “I think Byron coached D’Angelo from the heart. He did what he thought the best thing for D’Angelo was. It would have been easier had he just taken the path of least resistance,” (former assistant coach) Eyen says. “But he didn’t. It’s a lot more difficult to try to do it, what you feel is the right way, and discipline when you need to disciple. Pat him on the butt me give him accolades when he deserves it and just do what you need to do for not only the team, but for the long term of the player," started the book, as reported by Silver Screen and Roll.
"Russell, frankly, disagrees. Scott didn’t handle sophomore forward Julius Randle with the same kids gloves. “He’s an idiot,” Russell says of his coach. Russell felt Scott often yanked him from close contests purely to spark controversy and attention for his postgame media availability. “I just think he was malicious for no reason,” Russell says. “He’s a solid man. But as a coach, he was bad. He was just bad at his job," the story continues.
"When Scott summoned Russell back to the bench, Russell would take his most circuitous path in order to duck high-fiving the coaching staff. “I was just young. I used to do all types of shit to avoid talking to him,” Russell says," concluded the report.
At the end of the day, Russell's incident with Nick Young and his lack of development eventually made the Lakers trade him away to the Brooklyn Nets, which ended up being the best thing for his career.
But, even if he's yet to become the star we all thought he'd become, I think most Lakers fans would say that Scott didn't handle his situation properly and that he should've played more during his first passage in the league.