D’Angelo Russell had an interesting weekend for the Los Angeles Lakers. He had a terrible game on Saturday against the Clippers, not scoring until the final minutes and he got off to a rough start on Sunday against Memphis, committing four turnovers in the first quarter.
Unlike he may have done previously however, Russell did not get down on himself. Despite his shooting struggles on Saturday, Russell remained engaged, making some great passes and competing on defense. On Sunday, he committed only one turnover in the final three quarters while leading the Lakers with 28 points in their 108-103 win.
Few question Russell’s talent, but there have been times where his attitude and body language have been less than stellar. Head coach Luke Walton believes Russell is taking a step forward in that department with his recent play.
“I’ve seen more consistency in his professionalism and in his affecting the outcomes of games whether he is struggling or hitting shots recently. He had those early turnovers [tonight] and before, those games would kind of snowball a little bit and he would struggle the rest of the night. He’s done a good job of whether he’s making bad plays or missing shots of still helping our team be in position to win games, which is a huge step forward. It is important that you can bounce back within the game and he was obviously pretty good for us the rest of the way.”
Russell himself notes that he can’t get down on himself even if he’s struggling on offense.
“Whether my shots are falling or not I just want to be valuable out there and make plays for my teammates, offensively and defensively.”
Overall Russell has stepped up since the All-Star break averaging 18.4 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from deep, all improvements from earlier this season.
All of the talent in the world doesn’t matter if Russell isn’t engaged mentally. Many players are so focused on offense that their entire game suffers if they miss some shots. Russell getting past that mindset is a massive step in his development which could see him begin to realize the potential the Lakers and Walton see in him.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters unless otherwise noted**