The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been great since returning from the All-Star break, going winless in four games, three of which were blowout losses. There have been some positives however, and arguably the biggest has been the play of point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Russell has looked rejuvenated and reenergized since the weeklong break and his play has noticeably improved with his shooting and passing both looking great. Head coach Luke Walton has taken notice not only of his work in games, but his hard off the court as well. According to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, Walton believes that is no accident:
“Normally those go hand in hand. The harder you drill yourself, the better you play in the games,” Walton said before the Lakers hosted the Boston Celtics on Friday at Staples Center. “He’s kind of gotten back to that. Sometimes when you get away for a week, especially when you’re young, you come back rejuvenated a little bit and a little more fresh than when you’re in the dog days leading up to All-Star.”
Walton further praised Russell, saying the second-year guard is playing the way the coaching staff wants him to:
“He’s playing the way we want him to play,” Walton said of Russell. “I don’t care about the numbers. I’m more concerned with the pushing of the ball, the pace and throwing (the ball) ahead when people are open. The style of play is more important to me right now than the actual numbers behind it.”
Since the break Russell is averaging 21.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. He has really taken control of the Lakers offense and is constantly whipping passes across the court both in the half court and transition.
This level of play is what the Lakers and fans expected from Russell this season and he is finally beginning to deliver on his potential. Hopefully he will be able to keep this up for the remainder of the season and give the franchise and fans something to look forward to next season.