After an up and down rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers, D’Angelo Russell had a lot to prove when finally able to get back on the court during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Multiple videos of Russell’s offseason workouts and talk of his determination to improve his game has made headlines over the past few months. It didn’t take long for the second-year guard to show what he’s worked on with some impressive performances and three straight wins to start the team’s Summer League campaign.
Russell recently talked about the progress the team made in Summer League. The 20-year-old believes the team took steps in the right direction, via ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
“I think we learned a lot,” Russell said. “A lot of guys went forward, a lot of guys stayed the same, and a lot of guys went backwards. But as a team, I feel like we showed that we’re on our way. As a team, we didn’t go backwards. That’s all that matters right now.”
Russell wasn’t the only one to turn some heads on the Lakers’ Summer League squad. Rookies Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac also had their moments with the second-rounder being especially impressive in his debut with the team. Drafting Ingram was a no-brainer for general manager Mitch Kupchak and company, but landing Zubac may be another second-round steal like Jordan Clarkson was in 2014.
Forward Larry Nance Jr. also appears to have made tremendous strides in his development. Nance showed his versatility in Summer League making an impact on both ends of the basketball floor and could be a lethal weapon for Luke Walton next season. Nance made such an impression during his Summer League stint this year that he may even threaten to take Julius Randle’s starting role at power forward if the third-year player hasn’t improved his all-around game.
Needless to say, the young core for the Lakers continues to improve setting up a potentially bright future in the Walton era.