The NBA Summer League has officially come to an end for the Los Angeles Lakers with the team falling to the Utah Jazz in their final game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Although D’Angelo Russell and company were only able to win one game out of the five played, there remains room from optimism with this young team still trying to figure things out while showing some promise in the meantime.
With Russell being taken with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Ohio State product was put under the microscope in Las Vegas. Russell failed to live up to the hype during Summer League, but head coach Byron Scott wants to set the record straight in terms of expectations.
Coach Scott said the following about his new rookie point guard, via Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times:
“Let’s make this very clear, Russell is not Magic Johnson,” said Scott. “Magic came on the scene, and instantly he’s a Hall-of-Famer. D’Angelo has a way to go, there’s no doubt about that.”
As Scott stated, Russell has some work to do to prove he’s worth in the NBA. Unlike Magic, Russell didn’t make the instant superstar impression after stepping on the floor for the first and received the criticism for his poor play. Scott seems to be believe that this humbling experience in Las Vegas may benefit him in the long run, via Pincus:
“Sometimes when you come out here and you’re the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 pick, you expect to come out here and tear the league up,” he continued. “When guys kind of eat your lunch every now in then, it brings you back down to earth and lets you know that you still have a long way to go. In the long run, this might be the best thing that ever happened to him.”
Despite his shortcomings in Summer League playing alongside Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, Russell did show one admirable trait that simply can’t be taught. Russell’s confidence never wavered nor did he let the criticism impact the way he approached the game.
Ultimately, after four mediocre performances by the second overall pick, Russell shined in the Summer League finale for the Lakers. Unlike in games prior, Russell’s scoring ability was on display against the Utah Jazz on Friday night with the point guard putting up a team-high 21 points.
So although many were disappointed about Russell’s performance overall, there’s still a long way to go before determining his true potential. Russell won’t get another chance to show that potential until the NBA preseason in October giving him plenty of time to work on the weaknesses in his game.[divide]