When D’Angelo Russell was drafted with the second overall pick in 2015, it was believed that the Los Angeles Lakers had their backcourt of the future. Russell and Jordan Clarkson, fresh off an All-NBA Rookie First Team selection the previous season, looked to be perfect compliments for each other.
Of course everyone knows how it all turned out. Russell showed flashes of of what he could become, but struggled mightily with consistency and immaturity on and off the court. The Lakers dealt him to the Brooklyn Nets this offseason as Magic Johnson felt he needed more leadership from the point guard position.
Now Russell is set to make his first return to Staples Center on Friday night. According to Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group, Clarkson believes the Lakers may not have been the right fit for his former teammate:
“I really don’t know,” Clarkson said. “I feel like it just wasn’t the right fit for him, to be honest with you […] You see him right now in Brooklyn, he’s cooking,” Clarkson said. “He’s balling. … He’s got a new home, feel like it’s the right fit for him. He’s able to create, score, have the ball in his hands a lot, play the style of play that he wants to.”
Russell’s numbers this early season might bear that out. So far he is averaging 21.7 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 46.6 percent from the field. But Clarkson believes Russell will try to raise that average on Friday night:
“He’ll try to go for, 30 (points)? Forty?” Clarkson said. “I don’t know how many shots he’s going to put up. He’s going to come in here, he’s going to try to get a win for sure. He’s definitely going to put them up. He’s going to try to win the game.”
Russell never lacked for talent, it just always seemed to be the other things that held him back in L.A. It now looks like he’s putting those past them in Brooklyn, which is great for him, but also means the Lakers’ defense will need to be on point if they plan on containing him in his return.
Clarkson is likely to spend a lot of time matched up against his former teammate as well so it will definitely be something to watch.
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