When traded back to where it all started with the Los Angeles Lakers at last season’s trade deadline, D’Angelo Russell quickly made it known that he believed in the core of the team. After seeing what the Lakers were capable of when being thrown together on the fly, Russell constantly emphasized that a full offseason and training camp together will enhance L.A.’s chances of winning a championship.
The Lakers were at the cellar of the Western Conference, sitting at the 13th seed at the trade deadline. Russell’s point was proven true with how quickly the Lakers meshed on the fly to make it into the Play-In Tournament.
L.A. was able to take out the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies and the former defending champion Golden State Warriors, which were impressive victories. But, the luck would run out against the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Finals, a team that had their core together for years. The Lakers brought back their core guys in Russell, Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves this summer, allowing Russell to see what the team is capable of with a full offseason and camp together, which he is appreciative of Rob Pelinka for following through with.
“Yeah, sure. A lot of the organizations invest in their foundation, they keep guys there, they bring guys in for multiple years and they let that grow and build,” Russell said. “We just saw that with Denver. So for us to have that with the talent that we have, I think we can beat a lot of teams and win a lot of games so that’s the route Rob took this summer and we don’t want to let him down.”
The Nuggets’ firepower was on full display and it was clear that in free agency that Pelinka needed to add a bit more offense. Now, the Lakers bring back the core that made it to the Conference Finals but also sprinkle in Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood, to name a few additions.
Continuity seems to be a foreign concept for Lakers fans with the constant roster turnaround over the past few seasons, making LeBron James and Anthony Davis learn and adapt to a new group of guys. That is not the case this year though as the team can now build upon its success from last year instead of starting at ground zero.
Now, less than a week away from Opening Night, the Lakers have faired well in preseason with the rotational pieces looking solid, especially Russell, who is coming off a disappointing series in Denver but seems ready to quiet the noise this upcoming season.
Reaves calls Russell one of his ‘best friends’
During the limited regular season games and playoffs, Russell showed his emotions on the court and was clearly invested in his teammates. He quickly formed a bond with Reaves, who calls Russell one of his best friends.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!