Among all of the Los Angeles Lakers young players, none is more polarizing than point guard D’Angelo Russell. The second overall pick in 2015, Russell has drawn praise for his court vision and playmaking ability, but his issues with consistency, namely on defense has drawn a ton of criticism.
There is also a question of what position Russell is best at. His ball-handling and vision is why the Lakers have him at point guard. There are times, however, when his scoring ability makes some wonder if he wouldn’t be better at the off-guard position.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak recently sat down with David Aldridge of NBA.com and noted that he believes Russell is simply a basketball player:
“I think the challenge people are going to have with him is trying to pigeonhole him. Is he a ballhandling point guard or is he a shooting guard or is he a combo guard? I’m not sure any of those things by themselves define who he is. I think he’s just a basketball player.”
Kupchak added that he doesn’t believe Russell will ever be a prototypical point guard, but loves his gifts and what he brings to the team:
“I don’t know if he’s going to be a prototype point guard. I don’t know if Steph Curry is. I’m not trying to compare the two; I’m just trying to make an example of the game today is a little different than the game 20 years ago. A lot of the pieces are interchangeable. But D’Angelo’s gifts are his ability to see the floor. He’s a great 3-point shooter. He’s got size, he’s got length. But like the rest of our guys, with the exception of Larry Nance, he’s young.”
Kupchak is certainly right that Russell has some great tools, but he is very young at only 20 years old. He has yet to put everything together, but the pieces are there.
Whether or not Russell eventually does so remains to be seen, but the Lakers seem committed to allowing him every opportunity to do so. Kupchak has said on numerous occasions that he is excited about the future of the Lakers and this team has a number of young players that if they come together has the potential to become a contender in the futuer.