Heading into the 2015 NBA Draft last summer, Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns was a lock to be drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the number one overall pick. After Towns was off the board, the Los Angeles Lakers were on the clock with no one knowing which direction the storied NBA franchise was leaning.
Ultimately, the Lakers brass surprised everyone by selecting D’Angelo Russell out of Ohio State. The safe bet was to go with Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, but Russell impressed the team’s front office enough to make the bold move.
At the halfway point of his first season with the Lakers, Russell will play in the Rising Stars Challenge. Russell will play alongside Towns, and the Timberwolves star talked about his friend’s progression and how he expects the former Buckeye to be an All-Star in the future via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
“He’s playing at a higher level right now,” Towns said. “He’s playing so smart. He’s hitting a lot of shots. He’s doing a great job. He’s growing into a player that I can’t wait to see when he’s an All-Star.”
Along with playing alongside Towns for the first time, Russell will also be playing with Lakers teammate Jordan Clarkson in the Rising Stars Challenge. Russell, Towns and Clarkson will be playing for the U.S. squad on Friday night in Toronto.
Although Russell has started to come on strong for the Lakers, Towns seems to be leading the way in the race for the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Russell recently admitted that Towns is deserving of the award with the Timberwolves star putting up solid numbers throughout his first year in the league.
Okafor is another candidate for the Rookie of the Year and will also be playing alongside Towns, Russell, and Clarkson on Friday night. These up-and-coming players will face off against the World team led by Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, and Andrew Wiggins.