D’Angelo Russell has only played in two games since returning from an ankle sprain that held him out of nearly seven games. But in those two games, he looks like everything the Los Angeles Lakers have needed and more from the point guard position.
In the two-game stretch, he’s put up 61 points and 17 assists on 23-of-36 shooting combined. He is also 11-for-19 from three and is yet to miss a free throw. And although the Lakers are 1-1 in these two games, there’s no denying the impact Russell has had.
Russell discussed the way he’s been playing recently and what has led to the instant success in a return from injury. “I don’t know. Just confident. Just trying to keep it simple and lock into my preparation and things like that to allow the game to be simple for me. Obviously, making shots at a high clip allowing it to be easy for me as well.”
The former All-Star guard also spoke about if there’s been any change in mentality or pressure in his second stint with the Lakers.
“I mean, in ways. I think I’ve been doing what I’m doing. It’s just kind of magnified now,” Russell said. “Humbly saying, always play confident and always try to dominate the game. Some games I dominate them and some games they take me away and that’s just who I am, honestly. When I have a chance, I make the best of it.
“But definitely no pressure. I feel like I’m prepared for everything that I’m in right now, and whatever the future may hold, I’m prepared for that, too. There’s no pressure,” Russell confirmed. “I feel so free just playing the game at this age and at this level in my career and this time in my career. I just feel like I’ve seen a lot of familiar coverages, offenses, plays, systems, coaches and all that. So I feel comfortable wherever I am.”
Russell has never been the type of player to let pressure or expectation change the way he plays. It’s part of what has allowed him to find success even as he bounces from team to team. Russell is on his fifth destination (four teams) in eight seasons and yet he has always found a way to be effective.
This Lakers team is perhaps his best basketball fit since the Brooklyn Nets. He gets an incredible opportunity — mixed with playoff expectations — to show the type of player he is in the biggest moments. He definitely appears to be ready for the challenge.
Russell discusses sharing court with Julius Randle
Russell and the Lakers most recently faced off against former Laker Julius Randle and the New York Knicks. After the game, Russell spoke about seeing his former teammate once again and what that means to him.
“I’m a fan of his game. No relationship. We played together. We went our separate ways after that,” Russell said. “It’s just been competitive energy ever since then. That’s how I am with everybody. I’m not really friends with anybody, to be honest. On the court, it’s no love. Just trying to battle and try to get the win. Maybe shake hands after.”
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