Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Believes Dennis Schroder Prevented Him From Building Relationship With Darvin Ham Last Season
Dennis Schroder, D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

D’Angelo Russell has become one of the Los Angeles Lakers most reliable and trusted weapons this season. But that wasn’t the case last year as head coach Darvin Ham often turned to backup point guard Dennis Schroder to finish games.

This was especially the case in the postseason as Russell struggled shooting and Schroder’s defense became more important in the eyes of Ham. Ultimately, Ham chose to bench Russell in the Lakers’ final game of the year as they were swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Ham simply trusted Schroder more and the two had a relationship dating back years from their time together with the Atlanta Hawks. And it is because of that relationship that Russell felt he couldn’t have one with the Lakers head coach last year, as he revealed to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

Russell knew Ham and Schroder’s history went back nearly a decade to their time together with the Atlanta Hawks, where Ham was an assistant coach. Russell, meanwhile, had been around Ham for two months. (Schroder signed a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors in the offseason and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets last month.)

“His relationship with Darvin is the reason I couldn’t have a relationship with Darvin,” Russell said.

“When I was struggling, I would’ve been able to come to the coach and say, ‘Bro, this is what we should do. Like, I can help you.’ Instead, there was no dialogue. … I just accepted it.

“And we got swept and I’m here and he’s not. And I like our chances.”

It was a difficult position for Russell to be in as he was traded to the Lakers in the middle of the season and thus had very little time to develop that relationship. But thankfully, the two have since grown this season, figuring out how to communicate with each other and having the necessary dialogue to allow Russell to shine.

The point guard is enjoying a career year for the Lakers and has emerged as a vocal leader on the team as well. Many assumed he wouldn’t be on the team by this point, but Russell has earned the trust of Ham and his teammates as the Lakers would be in a far worse position without his heroics this year.

D’Angelo Russell trying to ‘shatter’ Nick Van Exel’s Lakers’ 3-point record

This season D’Angelo Russell is shooting a career-high 42.4% from 3-point range and is now on the cusp of setting a Lakers record for 3-pointers made in a season. That record was set back in 1994 by Nick Van Exel and Russell is only 11 triples behind with 16 games to play. As such, Russell isn’t trying to just set that record, but shatter it.

“It would be a huge honor to just kind of put my name into that category,” Russell said. “But me, I feel like if I never left I would’ve been did something like that. So confidently, I’m gonna keep that in the back of my mind and at the same time, I’m still trying to shatter that record, not just get that record.”

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