When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired D’Angelo Russell at the trade deadline, he filled a major role for the team. He seemed to be the perfect fit next to both LeBron James and Anthony Davis as he can operate off the ball, allowing LeBron to create and find him for open shots but is also excellent in the pick-and-roll with Davis being one of the best big men in the league to pair up with.
The Lakers building that chemistry with each other has been something the team has been working toward these past couple of months. Unfortunately for Russell, he has dealt with some injuries that have kept him out of a handful of games. As such, the point guard admits he and Davis still aren’t quite in sync on their pick-and-roll just yet.
“Obviously, they’re high-level guys,” Russell said when asked about playing with LeBron and Davis. “LeBron [James] is a guy you can just play off of and figure it out because he’s such a good passer as well, and then AD is a guy I think I’ve got to get a little more chemistry with. I’m a pick-and-roll guy, and he’s a pick-and-roll player as well, and I don’t think our chemistry is in sync yet. Obviously, haven’t had as many reps as we want, but just playing with them I learn something new every time.
“I know where AD wants the ball. I’m learning where he wants the ball. Bron, I’m learning how to play off of him. … I think when you are that high level of a player and myself as well, it’s easy to play like that. I haven’t been around a lot of players like that in my time. … So to have players that are a little more solidified and you know what they are and who they are. Their voice is heavy. It holds a lot of value and weight. You can learn a lot from that.”
Russell and Davis locking in together and getting on the same page would give the Lakers one of the best pick-and-roll pairings in the league. What makes the Russell-Davis pairing so dangerous is that both can hurt you in so many different ways.
Davis is difficult to stop strictly as a roller when he gets downhill, but the Lakers star also has the ability to pop out and hit jumpers from midrange. Likewise, Russell is excellent at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim, but also must be respected as a shooter so the defense can’t play too far off him either.
The pair have still had their moments, but Davis and Russell coming together in these playoffs and really clicking would really give the Lakers another exciting dynamic for opposing teams to account for.
Anthony Davis stresses importance of Lakers winning Tuesday to get more rest
Russell and Davis’ next chance to click will come on Tuesday as the Lakers host Russell’s former team the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Play-In Game. Obviously picking up the victory and locking in as the seventh seed is extremely important, but Davis recognizes another reason the Lakers need to come out on top as well.
Davis noted the importance of winning Tuesday as it would allow the Lakers to be off until Sunday when Game 1 of the series against the Memphis Grizzlies would take place. Getting some extra time to rest and heal up before a playoff run is always important, but even more so for a team that has dealt with injuries like the Lakers.
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