The Los Angeles Lakers surprised everyone during the 2015 NBA Draft by passing on Jahlil Okafor to select Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick.
On Monday, Russell, along with Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown, spoke to the media in an introductory press conference. Russell was surprised as anyone that he was drafted by the Lakers, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
D'Angelo Russell describes his "crazy" ride, says he's blessed, and number 1, "extremely shocked" Lakers picked him.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) June 29, 2015
All signs pointed to the Lakers going with Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns if the Minnesota Timberwolves decided pass on the Kentucky product. Russell was said to be in consideration to be drafted by Los Angeles, but no one seemed to take the speculation seriously.
Russell also made the bold statement during his presser claiming to be the best player in the draft, via ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
D'Angelo Russell: "I consider myself the top basketball player in the draft."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) June 29, 2015
With the Lakers showing extreme confidence in their selection of Russell, the organization feels he the former Buckeye can be a superstar-caliber player in the NBA. Although many within the organization are content with bringing in Russell, the 19-year-old will be put under a microscope next season with many judging whether he was worth the gamble for Los Angeles.
The real question moving forward is whether Mitch Kupchak and company can surround Russell with the talent needed to be a successful on the next level. Los Angeles is off to a great start with the rookie set to play alongside Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Kobe Bryant, but more pieces are needed to truly contend in a highly competitive Western Conference.
One-On-One With D’Angelo Russell