The early returns on the trade that landed the Los Angeles Lakers D’Angelo Russell have been strong. In just one game with both Russell and LeBron James, the Lakers dismantled the New Orleans Pelicans 120-102 with Russell, James and Anthony Davis combining for 70 points on 25-of-43 from the field with all three being a plus-14 or better.
Russell appears to be a seamless fit alongside James and Davis, even in the small sample size. And the hope is that things will only improve as Russell grows more comfortable within Darvin Ham’s system.
Ham spoke about what he hopes to see from Russell moving forward, saying that Russell’s natural skillset is exactly what L.A. needs. “Once he gets more familiar with our movement offense and different things we want to get done in the halfcourt, just being regular ole DLo,” Ham said.
“A really good pick-and-roll player, a really good shooter, really not gonna have to force anything. Just play within the flow of everything we’re doing and just be assertive. You run into that problem with LeBron and AD on the floor sometimes where guys tend to defer, defer, defer. But we want him to be aggressive and do what he does.”
Russell is shooting a career-high 39.0% from three this season and is still averaging 6.2 assists per game despite being the odd man out with the Minnesota Timberwolves to begin the season. Russell undoubtedly is a better fit in L.A.’s scheme.
It also shouldn’t take long for Russell to get comfortable, as he’s already familiar with the Lakers franchise and should have significantly more space to work with than he did with the Timberwolves. Having former teammates in Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt should help as well.
Russell is a great point guard for Ham’s system with his ability to shoot the three, defer when necessary and score in a number of ways. James and Davis have not had a point guard with a fit as good as Russell’s during their time together in L.A.
James optimistic heading into All-Star break
While the All-Star break is always welcomed in the NBA, James wants to use the time to focus in on the stretch run and what the Lakers can accomplish in that time. He spoke about his mindset regarding the team prior to the break. “I want the guys to enjoy the break but don’t get 100% detached because we want to come back and try to keep this thing going.
“I feel really good about what we have brewing, but it’s going to take a lot of commitment from us going down the stretch so I’m looking forward to that.”
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