The Los Angeles Lakers came into this season with a lot of promising young talent, and arguably no one has more potential than D’Angelo Russell. Though Russell had an up-and-down season, he still showed flashes of possibly being a superstar player.
Unfortunately for Russell, his slow start and constantly changing role under Byron Scott hurt his rookie season in the eyes of Rookie of the Year voters.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was the unanimous choice to win the award, and according to Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, Russell finished ninth in the voting:
D'Angelo Russell finished ninth in voting for NBA rookie of the year. Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns was first, followed by Porzingis, Jokic
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) May 16, 2016
The choice of Towns was an obvious one, and Russell was never expected to seriously contend for the award. Even still, finishing ninth in voting seems a little lower than what some expected. Russell received only one third-place vote from the panel of 130 voters.
Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks finished second, and Denver’s Nikola Jokic finished third overall. Devin Booker, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Myles Turner all finished ahead of Russell as well.
Despite this finish in the voting, Russell’s potential is not in question at all. Even with all of the inconsistencies, Russell finished the season averaging 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. Now under new head coach Luke Walton, and with a year of experience under his belt, it’s not unreasonable to expect Russell to build on his rookie year.
Judging by this finish in the award voting, it seems highly unlikely that Russell will find himself on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team, though he should make the second team.