D’Angelo Russell Thinks He Was Held Back With Timberwolves & Hopes To Remain With Lakers Long-Term
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers got an extremely important victory in Game 3 over the Golden State Warriors. Anthony Davis was dominant once again, leading the Lakers on both ends of the court, but the player who set the tone early on was point guard D’Angelo Russell.

Russell knocked down his first three 3-pointers and scored 13 of his 21 points in the first quarter of the Lakers’ 30-point win. The point guard has been a huge part of the Lakers’ postseason run, his first time being out of the first round, and a much different position than his previous stop with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

And Russell is enjoying this run far more. As he revealed in an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Russell believes he was held back in Minnesota and loves how Darvin Ham and the Lakers’ coaches have empowered him:

“How much am I enjoying this? I felt like I was held back there, honestly. I just kind of had to be the third option. Some nights, I was a little more aggressive and was kind of being held back. So to be in a position now where I can kind of thrive and be aggressive and it gets guys going, and where the team reflects off of anybody with that type of energy, it’s fun.”

Amick would even bring up Russell playing in scrimmages with some of the Timberwolves’ reserves, which Russell noted that he did to help build his confidence:

“Oh, you saw that? Yeah, so I would play in that because I felt that my confidence was being taken away with the style that I was playing in. I’m a killer, man. I’m a bird that needs to fly, and I couldn’t really fly there. They put me in a box that I was successful in … but I did that for confidence. I enjoy just playing, and I would play some of my best games in that (run), because I didn’t really have a rhythm (in the real games). I had to kind of cater to guys. And respectfully, I was with it because we were winning. But I know what type of player I am.”

Russell’s skillset has been an excellent fit with the Lakers, but he is also an unrestricted free agent this summer and it is unclear whether or not he will return to the team. As someone who has been on four different teams in his eight-year career, Russell is not fazed by the idea of moving on, though he does want to remain with the Lakers:

“I would love to stay here, but I would have loved to be in Minnesota too. So wherever my feet are, that’s where I’m gonna be.”

The future of Russell will be one of the biggest decisions the Lakers have to make this summer. But if he continues to produce playoff performances like his Game 3, it will make it very difficult for the Lakers to let him walk away.

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell taking advantage of defenses focusing on LeBron James, Anthony Davis

One reason D’Angelo Russell is able to thrive is because of the attention that LeBron James and Anthony Davis garner from the opposing defense. Russell understands this and is regularly looking to take advantage of the opportunities he gets because of it.

“I’m trying to be in a position to take advantage of how they’re guarding us,” Russell said. “They got some of their best defenders guarding (LeBron James) or the defender guarding (Anthony Davis). A lot of teams two best defenders are guarding those guys. So for me to be able to take advantage of it on the back side and create things and be aggressive, it opens the game up.”

LeBron and Davis make the game easier for their teammates and the best ones find great ways to thrive in that situation.

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