The Los Angeles Lakers are looking like a much improved team as of late, winning three of their last four games with the lone loss being a game in which they had a chance to win down the stretch. Part of the reason for the Lakers’ improvement has been the play of two of their young stars, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell.
Randle is averaging 17 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists over the last five games, while Russell is putting up 20.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists over the same time frame. Head coach Luke Walton has noted their improvement and believes he knows why they’re playing better.
Walton spoke after Sunday night’s win over the Orlando Magic, and has taken notice that both players have turned a corner as far as how they are preparing every day including practice, among other things:
“For both of them, I think there’s been a real change in the way that they’re preparing as far as how hard they’re playing in practice, the accountability they’re taking when they make mistakes, the constant staying after and getting shots up, whether it’s shootaround or practice.”
Walton added that the two young stars have really improved their professionalism:
“I think we all knew they had the talent to be really good, but I think it’s the fact that they really stepped up their professionalism as far as the way they’re treating their bodies and approaching practice and every opportunity. It’s just a direct result from that.”
Russell (17-8-7 and three steals) and Randle (19-9-5) along with rookie Brandon Ingram (17-3-2) led the Lakers to their third straight home win Sunday night and there is no question their play of late has Laker fans excited about the future of this team.
For players like Russell and Randle, who played only one year of college basketball, it can take some time for them to mature and understand what it takes to succeed at this level. The pair is clearly turning a corner and the Lakers are reaping the benefits.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters**