The Los Angeles Lakers surprised everyone during the 2015 NBA Draft by selecting guard D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick rather than going with the safe bet in Jahlil Okafor. Karl-Anthony Towns was already off the table with the Minnesota Timberwolves taking him with the top pick.
Halfway through his rookie season, Russell has shown flashes of potential to be a star in this league. Although Russell may have a bright future in Los Angeles, other rookies around the NBA have made quite an impression like Towns.
Towns has played well for the Timberwolves this season and living up to the hype of top pick in the draft. Russell, who was picked right after Towns last June, believes the Kentucky product should win the NBA Rookie of the Year award via Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:
D'Angelo Russell on his buddy Karl-Anthony Towns. "Hopefully he lands rookie of the year, man. He deserves it."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) February 1, 2016
In 49 games, Towns is averaging 16.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game for the Timberwolves. The 20-year-old appears to be improving with every passing game and is making a strong case to be this year’s top rookie when it is all said and done.
Russell, however, hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations thus far. The former Buckeye is putting up 11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 41.3 percent from the floor.
After beginning his rookie season as the starting point guard under head coach Byron Scott, Russell is now coming off the bench and has been inconsistent at times. A lot of Russell’s production on the floor has come in garbage time with the game already out of hand.
As for the race for the Rookie of the Year award, it may come down to Towns, Okafor, and Kristaps Porzingis. Russell may be able to turn things around with a strong second half of the season, but right now, it’ll likely a three-man race for top rookie honors.