On Friday the Los Angeles Lakers participated in their final preseason game, which was a close loss to the Phoenix Suns. Now that head coach Luke Walton and his coaching staff have a few final practices before the regular season starts, they can take time to reflect on their roster.
Training camp was an audition for each player, as the core players want to demonstrate how they’ve grown, while the borderline players fight for a roster spot. The Lakers have two remaining cuts to make before the final roster is reached, with a tough decision looming for Walton.
On the other hand, his star players have demonstrated the hard work they put in this summer, earning the moniker “Breakfast Club”. Leading that group is none other than second-year player D’Angelo Russell. The point guard has had to learn an entirely different offense in his second season, drastically different from his time with Byron Scott.
Walton and Russell have clicked immediately, with the pair forming a big-brother type relationship according to the 20-year-old.
The Kentucky native is learning the ins and outs of the offense, which comes with a learning curve. Russell’s creativity has been tested in this up-tempo scheme, as he has suffered from an unusual number of turnovers.
According to Walton, the floor will open up tremendously once Russell is able to find a proper balance between passing and shooting, via Serena Winters of LakersNation:
Luke Walton said he expects the whole game to open up for D’Angelo once the 'when to pass/when to shoot' comes naturally vs. predetermining
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 22, 2016
Russell combined for 15 turnovers over his last three preseason games, which ruined an otherwise strong all-around performance. The 20-year-old is still adjusting to the speed and style of the NBA, while learning and continually growing his game.
Once Russell is able to find a balance to work with, Walton believes it will only take his game into that next gear. As he continues adjusting his game, the experience will help his passing abilities naturally occur, rather than forcing things.
The Lakers preseason opener is slated for Wednesday, at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets.