The Los Angeles Lakers have a number of promising young pieces on the roster, but when it comes to potential, D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram have the biggest expectations on their shoulders. Considering both were picked second overall in their respective drafts, those kinds of expectations make sense.
To this point both have shown flashes of potential greatness, but neither has been able to put it all together regularly for Luke Walton’s squad.
In evaluating his young talent, Walton noted that both are improving, but are struggling with consistency via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
“They’re both progressing and getting better, but the consistency isn’t there yet,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “That’s one of the hardest things to get in this league.”
Walton understands that being consistently great is extremely difficult, especially for young players, and that’s why he maintains hope in his young guys, noting that everyone figures it out at their own pace:
“Obviously there’s games I wish they were playing better and there were games I think they’re playing great,” Walton said. “But it’s tough to go in with expectations of where you see a rookie or a second-year guy getting to by the end of that year. It takes everyone different (lengths of) time and a different amount of experience level to really figure it out.”
The pressure on Ingram and Russell is immense as with Kobe Bryant now retired, many are looking at them to take over as the new face of the franchise. Neither is close to being there yet, but both sound like players who want and expect to get to that level.
Russell rated his play this season as average and speaks constantly about wanting to be a leader on this team while Ingram is already making plans for the off-season where he plans to make serious improvements. Whether or not they ever reach their potential is a question mark, but both will do everything possible to make sure they do, and Walton certainly hasn’t lost hope yet.