Among the chief storylines of the summer and next season for the Lakers is D’Angelo Russell’s development. Now in his second season, Russell is expected to take a leap in becoming one of the leaders of the team.
Russell had an up-and-down rookie year but the point guard seems ready to prove doubters wrong in his sophomore season. According to the 20-year-old himself (via TWC Sportsnet), that starts in the gym where Russell has been working to get stronger.
“I feel like offseason is really based on chemistry, getting to know guys you really have no idea about, and I’ve been in the weight room a ton. That’s really my main focus. Last year, coming in you didn’t have a clue what you were getting yourself into, you just knew what you’ve seen, but actually playing is a process. I’m just trying to get prepared as best I can.”
That’s an expected answer. Most players are not ready for the size and brutality of the NBA when they are first drafted.
The added strength from Russell will be especially notable in one specific part of his skillset. D’Angelo’ post-up game was far ahead of what was expected from him last season. The new coaching staff has already emphasized that Russell will have opportunities in the post this year.
The young point guard spoke about the importance of improving that post game even more, as it will allow him to “dominate.”
“In this league everybody’s different. You’ve got small guards that dominate the game, you’ve got athletic guards that dominate the game, you’ve got shooting guards that dominate the game, and the post is slowling disappearing with guards. There’s a few guards that still post up, like Westbrook, or Chris Paul a little bit. I just want to be one of those guys, Shaun Livingston, one of those guys that can dominate the game at any time in the post.”
Russell’s size and ability out of the post should allow him to dominate as both a scorer and a facilitator. Of course, that requires him to learn a difficult balance between both roles. Russell, speaking like a veteran, discussed that challenge:
“I mean at that time you want to show you can score and facilitate, but at the next level you’ve got to take what they give you. If the right play is facilitating the whole game and you’ve got eight or nine assists, that’s fine, but just letting them know that you can do it.”
D’Angelo Russell obviously seems ready to become the leader of this Lakers team. From dominating in the post to finding the right time to facilitate, Russell sounds like a proven vet in how he wants to approach the game.
Can the season start, already?
(All transcriptions via Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll)