D’Angelo Russell is an extremely unique player. A 6’5 lefty guard who can score both with his shooting and by getting to the rim and has an outstanding passing ability, there are very few players like him. He has received comparisons to the likes of James Harden and Stephen Curry, but the player Russell most identifies with personally is San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
Ginobili came to the NBA in 2002 and quickly established himself as a player unlike anyone else who had been in the league before. He would ultimately win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2008, and make two All-Star Games as well as popularize the Euro-Step move.
The Argentinian caught the eye of Russell and ahead of the Lakers showdown against the Spurs, Russell revealed that he patterned his game after Ginobili in an interview with ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
“You try to go to what you’re accustomed to,” he said. “And Manu was never as athletic, but he could really pass the ball. He could score the ball, and he was just so unpredictable, and he was a lefty, so he was a player that I really prided myself on being.”
Russell also spoke about how Ginobili changes the game from the moment he enters:
“When he gets in the game, it’s like, the whole persona of the game just changes,” he said. “I was like, man, if I can pride myself into being like that, just being a guy that’s so unpredictable that even at the age he’s at now , he’s so hard to guard.”
It’s easy to see the similarities in both players. As Russell pointed out, neither is the most athletic player, but make an impact through their scoring and passing and are capable of playing both on and off the ball.
Russell must now learn to be more consistent like Ginobili was in his prime. At his peak, Ginobili was a 20 point per game scorer who made an impact every night. If Russell can have that kind of impact, the Lakers would be very happy.