The Los Angeles Lakers went through their fair share of drama during the 2015-16 season. As a part of Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour, the young players like D’Angelo Russell got to witness a NBA legend ride off into the sunset.
Although the spectacles and honors were a thrill to see, the development of the young core was definitely hindered during that tough season. Under the watch of former head coach Byron Scott, Russell was unable to develop his game properly and was often clashing with Scott on his position with the team.
When Russell went to the NBA Draft, his expectations and desires were to be drafted by the Lakers. Although the franchise has their rich history of legendary NBA figures and 16 championships, he was unaware of the microscope that comes with playing in Los Angeles.
Upon being drafted second overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Russell had a contagious smile and seemed ready to take over as the next star of the Lakers. In an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, he discussed the ongoing antics and lack of chemistry between the newly assembled group:
“First of all, I didn’t know it was Kobe’s last year at that time, so when I realized it was Kobe’s last year, so many more things started to play it’s part, as far as his farewell tour and stuff like that. We definitely tried to win, like every game was a winning game, but at this league it’s so hard to win when you don’t have a group of guys that have grown together. When you just throw guys randomly anywhere, it’s going to take some time. We had so many new faces and just everything was new, so it wasn’t going to click right away and it never clicked. So it was hard to have expectations for the Lakers when we were all new and didn’t have that rapport with each other.”
The Lakers would go on to have a disastrous 17-65 season, although the departure of Bryant did provide some positive moments throughout all of the losses. During his rookie campaign, Russell averaged 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 28.2 minutes per game.
Although Bryant has departed into his retirement, the future Hall-of-Famer did leave the young core with departing words on how to succeed moving forward.
The 20-year-old has now found a new coach to succeed with, as head coach Luke Walton has brought forth a desirable culture change in order to bond with the young core of the Lakers.
With a glimmer of hope moving forward, the team gears up for their season opener at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.