Scott grew up in Inglewood, California and played at Morningside High School, in the shadow of what was then the Lakers’ home arena, The Forum. He played college basketball at Arizona State University for three years, then left after his junior year to play in the NBA.
Selected by the San Diego Clippers in the first round, with the fourth pick of the 1983 NBA draft, Scott was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1983 in exchange for Norm Nixon. During his playing career, Scott suited up for the Lakers, Indiana Pacers and Vancouver Grizzlies. Scott was a key player for the Lakers during the Showtime era, being a starter alongside Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and A. C. Green. He played for the Lakers for 10 consecutive seasons (1983–1993). During that time he was on three NBA championship teams (1985, 1987, 1988).
As a rookie, Scott was a member of the 1984 all-rookie team, averaging 10.6 PPG in 22 MPG. He led the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (.433) in 1984–85. In 1987–88, Scott enjoyed his best season, leading the NBA champion Lakers in scoring, averaging a career-best 21.7 ppg, and in steals (1.91 spg). He was the Lakers’ starting shooting guard from 1984 until 1993.
In 1996–97, the last year of Scott’s playing career in the NBA, he went back to the Lakers and proved to be a valuable mentor for a team featuring Shaquille O’Neal, Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel and 18-year-old rookie Kobe Bryant (Scott would be Bryant’s coach on the Lakers towards the end of the latter’s career).