It’s not always easy for a young player to transition to the NBA, which is a fact that Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell knows all too well. There are a host of expectations heaped upon them in addition to the exciting lifestyle that having money in a big city can offer.
On occasion, Russell has been criticized for his shortcomings both on and off the floor. His talent is unquestionable but poor judgment in an incident involving a recording of teammate Nick Young last year brought Russell’s name into the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now, he admits that he has struggled at times, but seems determined to move on from his miscues, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
“Being 21, not always thinking like a professional at times,” Russell said of his struggles to self-correct in the past. “It kind of hurts but grow at it.”
There are times when Russell looks disinterested or unmotivated on the court, and he has spent time on the bench this season as a result. He has also had to deal with being shuffled around the Lakers lineup from point guard, to sixth man, and now to shooting guard. Still, teammate Tyler Ennis has been impressed with the success that Russell has found recently:
“He’s one of the first ones in the gym every morning,” Lakers guard Tyler Ennis said. “He’s going to work hard. Just him sticking with it. Coming off the bench sometimes, starting point guard, shooting guard. It’s tough to adjust but I think he’s done a great job just feeling aggressive, and when we need big shots he’s able to make them.”
The Lakers are desperate to rebuild their once-great franchise and sorely need a franchise player since losing Kobe Bryant to retirement last summer. While Russell may not be the transcendent star that they need, he is still an impressive talent when he is on, as evidenced by his 28 point, six rebound, and five assist effort in a win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night.
At 21 years old, Russell is far from a finished product, and Lakers fans have to hope that, as he adds years and the wisdom that comes with them, he is able to fulfill the potential that all can see.