As the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the pressure was on D’Angelo Russell to produce for the Los Angeles Lakers immediately. An up-and-down rookie season with issues both on and off the court, however, led to some questioning his maturity and work ethic.
This offseason Russell has gone about working to change that perception. He has been a regular at the Lakers’ practice facility and has been lauded by head coach Luke Walton for stepping up as a leader on the team.
In an interview with Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, Russell responded to anyone who questions his work ethic, saying he knows everything he has put into getting better:
“The people that say that about me don’t really matter,” Russell said. “I know I’m in the gym. I know I’m asking for more and trying to get better. So people that are there witnessing it and putting me through the workouts, those are the people that matter.”
Russell seems to be using his detractors as motivation, and that could bode well for himself and the Lakers this coming season. Russell had an excellent showing in Summer League and looks poised to make a big leap this year. If Russell shows improvement on the court this season, those questioning him will begin to die down.
Russell isn’t the only player who has been hard at work at the Lakers facility this offseason. Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram and plenty of others have all been working on their game and in the weight room.
The Lakers young core is extremely promising, and Russell may be at the top of that list as far as potential. As long as he stays focused, he and the rest of the Lakers should be able to turn some heads this season.