The Lakers have built their dominance thanks to star-studded frontcourts that opponents just simply could not handle. Mikan was an unstoppable force in Minneapolis, Chamberlain was a dynamic center on both ends of the court, Abdul-Jabbar was untouchable in the paint and Shaq was someone defenses revolved their game plans around.
So it was a simple decision to draft Jahlil Okafor, right? Well, alongside the Lakers’ big men is a legacy of multi-dimensional guards that left their imprint on the franchise, and the NBA. From Jerry West to Magic Johnson, the city of Angels is used to seeing talented guards donning the purple-and-gold.
The NBA is no longer a slowed down game that relies heavily on a big man anchoring the paint. A prime example is the Golden State Warriors and their style of play. The Warriors hoisted the Larry O’Brien by spacing the floor with small, athletic lineups ready to shoot the three.
Although the Lakers understand the value a big man has to a championship roster, in this ever-changing league, the front office embraced the new age of basketball. There are now guards like Russell Westbrook who stun defenses with their athleticism and crafty leaders like Stephen Curry who create from themselves and their teammates.
This past Thursday, the Lakers got their star for this new era. They got a game changer in D’Angelo Russell and the two are ready to bring the Lakers back to their former glory.
Russell has drawn comparisons to some of the best guards in the NBA and his determination to win in Los Angeles is refreshing to see. The guard out of Ohio State has passing abilities unrivaled in college basketball and that skill is undoubtedly transferable to the pros.
Russell may not be the quickest of point guards, but what he lacks in that category he makes up with his passing, basketball IQ and leadership abilities.
The rookie has embraced everything the Lakers stand for and he has expressed his willingness to learn from Kobe Bryant. As a rookie, the five-time champion strived to become one of the best basketball players this league has ever seen, and Russell seems to have that exact same mindset.
Kobe respects young players who are willing to put in the work it requires to be legendary and he found a great pupil in D’Angelo Russell.