The Los Angeles Lakers gave up on their No. 2 overall draft pick from 2015, D’Angelo Russell, this past offseason as they traded him and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick, which ended up being rookie sensation Kyle Kuzma.
While the biggest benefit of the trade was unloading Mozgov’s contract, Russell’s lack of leadership also played a factor in it, according to president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. Of course the Lakers went on to draft Lonzo Ball as Russell’s replacement at point guard.
Russell has excelled so far with the Nets, as he is averaging 21.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting 46.6 percent from the field, all career-highs although it has only been seven games.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton, who said that he hopes Russell develops into an All-Star, admitted after Wednesday’s practice that he has been checking up on Russell this season and he is happy he’s playing well, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke Walton said he checks in on D'Angelo & is happy for him: "He’s been playing great, shooting the ball well and putting up big numbers."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 1, 2017
While Russell took a lot of criticism in his time in Los Angeles and it ultimately didn’t work out for either side, he was always a very talented young player so it should come as no surprise that he is putting up big numbers so far with the Nets.
Despite him playing well, it’s hard to argue with the trade the Lakers front office made because of how crucial it was to get Mozgov’s contract off the books. Not to mention they got a proven veteran in Lopez on an expiring contract and perhaps the steal of the draft in Kuzma.
Russell will make his return to Staples Center on Friday, as the Lakers are set to host the Nets, so it will be interesting to see him and Ball going head to head.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB