D’Angelo Russell is starting to get it. He is proving to everyone that he is worthy of the second overall draft selection. Russell is finding ways to be a successful player after a slow start to the season, and I think everyone can stop associating the “bust” or “Kendall Marshall 2.0” labels next to his name.
Russell is averaging 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in eight games in December so far. His minutes have also increased from 27 per game last month to 31 per game this month. In the last four games, Russell is scoring almost 20 points with two of those games coming off the bench.
Russell’s game has been more aggressive and fluid since being demoted to the bench and his confidence is rising and becoming more apparent with each game. After scoring a career-high 24 points against the Spurs on Friday, Russell notched a career-high seven assists and tallied an efficient 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting Tuesday night against the Bucks. He also grabbed four rebounds and three steals.
For the first few weeks of the season, Russell was criticized for his lack of success on the court compared to the likes of Karl Towns, Kristaps Porizingis and Emmanuel Mudiay. What was often overlooked was that his situation was a bit different from those players. Russell played fewer minutes while being forced to play out of position at times, and is now currently coming off the bench. But with that all being said, he is finally starting to find his stride. Russell said in a post-game interview that the game is becoming easier for him:
“Things are coming easier just as I get that experience, knowing that there is a flow to the game that you have to figure out and once you figure it out everything becomes easier.” (Via Lakers.com)
He also displayed maturity by accepting his role coming off the bench:
“Ever since that happened, I get to see the game from a different perspective. I didn’t let that bother me and find ways I can get better from it, and it looks like it is working out well.” (Via Lakers.com)
D’Angelo Russell is slowly becoming the player that we expected him to be. He is displaying his vision and scoring ability. If there were ever doubts in his status and future in this league, just watch the game he played against the Bucks.
The Lakers may not win a lot of games this season, but with nights where their prized rookie is succeeding on the floor, they can be excited about selecting the right player with the No. 2 overall pick. Lakers’ General Manager Mitch Kupchack said in an interview on the team’s official site that after scouting him extensively, they know that he will be a great player in the future:
“There was never a doubt when we scouted him last year and when we drafted him and worked him out that he was going to be a very, very, very, very good player in this league. I think there will be a lot of games in his career where he’ll be a triple-double threat.”
It looks like Russell is already proving to the league that his potential for greatness may come sooner rather than later.