Is Coach Byron Scott Hindering the Lakers Youth Movement?


After the worst season in franchise history, the Lakers were reportedly in the midst of a serious youth movement and assembled an intriguing 19-man preseason roster comprised largely of younger players. These young players were expected to see a lot of on-court time in preseason games, but it has not turned out that way so far.

Coach Byron Scott has given most of the minutes to the veterans, and as the team prepares to trim the roster for the regular season, most of the younger players were given scant opportunity to show what they can do under game conditions.

What this portends is that the 2015-16 Lakers will rely principally on veterans such as Kobe Bryant, Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass, Lou Williams, and Nick Young, all of whom have been featured prominently in the preseason. Of course, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle will join this mix, as will D’Angelo Russell who has struggled so far.

What about the other young players who are vying for a roster spot and hoping for more playing time? Who will make the team, and will any of them get meaningful minutes?

One player who has experienced a very odd summer and preseason is Anthony Brown.

He played very little in Summer League and barely played at all during the first three preseason games. Then Russell was injured, and Brown was thrust into a starting role the past three games. While his stats have been very modest, Scott has been emphatically positive about his performance especially on defense.

When Bryant is unable to go or is moved to shooting guard, will Scott give Brown a chance to play in the regular season? Or will Scott prefer World Peace’s experience over Brown’s potential as a starter at small forward when Bryant is out?

There are few options at small forward, and Scott seems to prefer Young coming off the bench. The Lakers have been terrible on defense in the preseason, especially on the perimeter, so if Brown can do a better job, that may be enough for Scott to play him even as a rookie second round draft choice.

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This has been an especially perplexing preseason for the three centers competing to back up Hibbert.

Tarik Black, Robert Sacre, and Robert Upshaw have all played very little, and in a recent game against the Kings none of them played at all. Instead, Scott experimented with Bass and Kelly up front and no true center, in the Lakers version of “small ball.”

As between Black, Sacre, and Upshaw, two were expected to make the final squad, but if Scott likes the smaller line-up, is possible there will be only one back-up center? In light of recent events, it seems that this may be the case.

Likewise, Larry Nance Jr. played very little in the preseason until the recent game against the Golden State Warriors where he was outstanding on both ends of the court. He hustles, works endlessly on defense, and crashes the board hard for rebounds.  He is likely to make the squad, but so long as Randle, Bass and Kelly remain healthy, it is unclear if he’ll get any playing time.

When preseason began many fans wanted to see Jonathan Holmes play, but it hasn’t happened. By reputation he is a versatile “4” who can also play the “3,” and he is known for being a good outside shooter which the Lakers could use.

Though Scott consistently praises Holmes, he has played a grand total of one quarter through the entire preseason. This means he hasn’t been given a chance to show what he can do, so it is logical to assume he will not make the squad.

Additionally, Holmes was injured in last night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers which further complicates the situation.

It was expected that the competition for the final guard spot on the roster would be intense between Jabari Brown and Michael Frazier II, but both have played sparingly and when they have, neither have fared well. Brown looked comfortable in Summer League but is pressing now, and it was just revealed that Frazier was cut from the team.

It was expected that one or the other would make the final roster, but given what has transpired both players could be cut.

The Lakers were counting on Brazilian-born Marcelo Huertas to be the back-up point guard this year, but he missed half of the preseason. However, in his debut against the Warriors, and his curtain call against the Trailblazers, he was outstanding running the offense. He may have earned himself a backup berth at point guard, but he has to stay healthy.

The Lakers’ first regular season game is a little over a week away. It appears there will be more veterans on the team than originally expected, and they will play a bigger role than some fans would prefer.

Still, the question looms, will there be any last minute surprises and has the team given enough opportunity to the younger players to fairly evaluate their potential? Now that Robert Upshaw and Michael Frazier II have been cut, who are the next two on the chopping block?

Let us know who you think the Lakers should cut in the comments below.

Next: Lakers Waive Robert Upshaw and Michael Frazier II