The Los Angeles Lakers may not be winning many games lately, but that doesn’t mean that their players aren’t showing growth. In particular, second-year guard D’Angelo Russell has been thriving lately, with averages of 24.6 points and 5.6 assists since spending three games coming off the bench.
Russell was pushed out of the starting lineup in an effort to allow Jordan Clarkson to get a look at the starting point guard position, but not surprisingly, it also lit something of a fire under Russell. Head coach Luke Walton has liked what he has seen from his talented young guard lately and went out of his way to compliment his performance in a loss to the Washington Wizards.
“He was great tonight. He was brilliant […] Even with the fact that he missed some shots in the fourth, I don’t care. Obviously I want the shots to go in, but he had good looks and we want him taking those. I thought he had a brilliant game tonight. He was active on defense. He was trying to tag cutters and do all the things we ask. Offensively he was getting what he wanted. He was making nice passes […] He’s been really good and was really good again tonight.”
In a standout performance against Washington, Russell posted an impressive 28 points, six rebounds, and nine assists and almost got the Lakers an upset win.
There has never been any question about Russell’s talent level, but his play can sometimes appear lackadaisical and his focus can wane at times. When he is locked in, Russell has a very intriguing skill set, including excellent court vision, the ability to knock down outside shots, and a great feel for navigating the high pick and roll.
Additionally, Russell has an impressive 6’9″ wingspan to go along with his 6’5″ frame, which gives him the versatility to play either as a point guard or a shooting guard. In fact, with Clarkson on the floor doing most of the ball-handling, Russell has looked a bit more comfortable and has certainly been more attack-minded.
With that being the case, it will be interesting to see what the Lakers do with Russell moving forward. While he appeared to be their point guard of the future, it could be that his best fit is playing alongside another guard who can also play on or off the ball, and there just so happens to be a pair of players at the top of this year’s NBA draft who can do just that in Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz.
Regardless of how the ping pong balls bounce, the hope has to be that Russell continues his strong play and takes the next step in his development.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters unless otherwise noted**