When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook, the hope was that he would be the team’s third star along with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Things didn’t play out that way though as Westbrook didn’t fit well with James and Davis and his overall play diminished. The Lakers were finally able to put an end to that experiment at the trade deadline when they completed a three-team trade involving Westbrook that brought back D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.
The move signifies the Lakers moving away from their three-star model, although that might not exactly be the case. Russell is a former All-Star in his own right and is a better fit alongside James and Davis due to his ability to shoot.
At his introductory press conference back in L.A., Russell talked about how he also considers himself an alpha, although he doesn’t think he will have a problem fitting in on this Lakers team:
“For me, I can only speak for me personally and the guys that I’m coming here with, I played with those guys so I know their strengths and weaknesses. We complement those guys tremendously. But for myself, I always feel like I’m an alpha, too. So whatever room I’m in, whoever I’m around, I’m going to feel like that, I’m going to walk like that. And when I get out on the floor, we’re going to figure that out as well. Like I said, I’m going to try to fit into what they got going on, and then try to figure it out from that. And I trust my craft too so whatever position I’m in, I know I’m gonna thrive.”
Knowing what he and the other new guys bring to the table, Russell believes the Lakers are going to be hard to gameplan for:
“I know I’m dangerous on the floor and guys respect that so I know when I’m playing against guys, I kind of know what to get to. Bringing that to here, we got a good group of guys, like I said, I try to use the word dangerous because it’s a versatile group and they can make plays at any time and it’s hard to scout for when you throw a guy like myself into that. Just try to be that Swiss army knife that can just add value to wherever.”
Russell seems to be coming back to L.A. with the right mentality. A big theme when Westbrook came to L.A. was allowing him to be himself on the floor, and it looks like that will be the same for Russell.
Russell being himself is a more natural fit for the Lakers though, so the hope is that he and the team will find success that leads to a long-term partnership.
Russell thinks about Kobe when he reflects on first tenure with Lakers
Russell was also asked to reflect on his first tenure with the Lakers, and the only thing he could think about was Kobe Bryant. Russell feels he has much more appreciation for the Lakers legend now than when they played together, which is natural considering he was a 19-year-old rookie at the time.
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