With an up-and-down rookie season behind him, as well as a new head coach, offensive system, and supporting cast, the pieces for Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell to make a huge leap this season are all there. Throughout the summer and now the preseason, Russell has given fans plenty of reasons to believe he is ready to make the next step.
During Summer League Russell was one of the best players there, taking over games with his scoring and passing and even adding in a game-winner against the Philadelphia 76ers. So far during preseason Russell has again shown signs of being arguably the Lakers best player including a couple of 30-point outings already.
This has caught the eye of the General Managers around the NBA. The annual NBA.com GM Survey was released and Russell was voted as the fourth most likely player to have a breakout season:
It shouldn’t be too surprising that two of Russell’s best friends, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, top the list. Booker looked like an absolute star at the end of last season once given the opportunity, and Towns was dominant throughout his rookie campaign, running away with the Rookie of the Year Award.
Regardless of whether Russell has better seasons than Booker, Towns, or Indiana’s Myles Turner, the important thing is that Russell takes a leap. He has all of the tools and seems to be putting them together. He is the leader of this young Lakers team, and the ball will be in his hands most of the time.
If he is able to fulfill his potential, the Lakers will begin to climb back into relevance and with players like Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram all still having room to grow, the Lakers will be in a good place.