It’s no secret that D’Angelo Russell’s rookie year was a tumultuous one. Through the coaching situation, Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour, and his own personal struggles, Russell had plenty of difficulties. Nevertheless, he ended the season successfully, leaving enough hope that his rookie year will lead to a great career.
Regardless, Russell could have had a better start to his NBA career and he would likely say the same. In fact, he recently insinuated just as much.
In an interview with SLAM’s Drew Ruiz, Russell spoke about his relationship with this year’s number two overall pick, Brandon Ingram. The point guard claimed that he will be helping the Duke product have a more successful rookie year than Russell did. (h/t Max Gruver of Def Pen Hoops.)
SLAM: What’s your relationship with Brandon Ingram been like so far?
DR: That’s my guy! I think he’s going to be successful in this League. He’s a funny dude and is real quiet ’til you really get to know him.
SLAM: Any advice you’ve given him as he prepares for his rookie season?
DR: I told him to embrace the pressure. What he’s going through now is what I went through as far as being the No. 2 pick, all the attention is on you and everybody wanting to see what you can do. Now I look back on what I went through last year and I was like, ‘That was the pressure I had?’ And I kind of didn’t embrace it. Embrace it, like, go get it and go attack it. That’s what I tell him—to go have way more success in your first year than I had.
That ought to be music to the ears of Lakers’ fans. Ingram will have veteran mentorship on the squad with Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Jose Calderon. But having D’Angelo Russell, a player who just went through the same process as Ingram, leading the way should do wonders for the small forward.
Ingram is not ready to have a huge load placed on his shoulder. However, with a new coaching staff and the experiences from Russell leading the way, he could have a great rookie year. Other NBA rookies already believe Ingram will have the best career out of the draft class; perhaps, he can get a head start.