Magic Johnson Believes D’Angelo Russell Has ‘Grown And Matured’ Since First Lakers Stint
Magic Johnson, Lakers
Earvin “Magic” Johnson takes questions from journalists outside the Historic Capitol after a roundtable discussion about student athletes’ mental health Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

D’Angelo Russell’s first stint with the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t go according to plan as the organization soured on him quickly.

Although Russell was clearly a talented player, the organization had issues with his inconsistent play and his bouts of immaturity. With a new front office regime led by Magic Johnson, the Lakers selected Lonzo Ball No. 2 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. Johnson cited a need for a leader on the team, a direct shot at Russell who was eventually traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Now, Russell’s found his way back to Los Angeles and seems ready for a second chance with the team who initially gave up on him. So far, the early returns have been fruitful and even Johnson had to admit that he’s seen growth out of Russell, via Bryan Kalbrosky of USA Today:

“I think D’Angelo has really grown and matured. He can score the basketball. He can pass the basketball. He doesn’t turn it over a lot. That’s what I like about him, too. That pick-and-roll with Anthony Davis is going to be special. You have to pick your poison for what you try to do whether it’s Russell coming off the PnR or Anthony Davis rolling to the basket and they’ll have some more time playing with LeBron. If the Lakers can get in, and I think they will, nobody is going to want to play them. That’s for sure.”

There’s no denying that on the court Russell has become a much better offensive player and already looks like a perfect fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Fans got a glimpse of what the trio can look like in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans, so now it’s just about getting the reps together.

Off the floor, though, Russell has looked and sounded like a more self-aware person who understands the opportunity in front of him. A free agent this summer, these next 23 games are going to be pivotal for Russell’s future but so far it looks like he might have a future in Los Angeles.

Darvin Ham doesn’t want D’Angelo Russell deferring to LeBron James and Anthony Davis

Russell knows that coming to the Lakers mid-season means he’ll have to adapt on the fly and find his place on the team. While it’s important for him to figure out his fit, Darvin Ham doesn’t want him deferring to James and Davis.

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