The Los Angeles Lakers held their Media Day Monday ahead of training camp beginning on Tuesday in Santa Barbara, meaning NBA basketball is officially back. With Kobe Bryant no longer on the team, the focus on Media Day was around the team’s young core, namely D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram.
Russell in particular was the center of a lot of attention as the buzz around him is beginning to grow heading into his second NBA season.
A lot will be expected out of Russell this season, as he is the team’s unquestioned starting point guard and said he wants to be a leader going forward. At the team’s first training camp practice Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he has high expectations for Russell this season, via Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet:
Kupchak on Russell: “He was in the gym every day (offseason). Now he understands the NBA. I think he’s gonna have a good year, I really do.“
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 27, 2016
Russell had an up-and-down rookie season, averaging 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 41 percent from the field.
There were some issues with his maturity as well, as he clashed with former head coach Byron Scott on a couple of occasions, and he was also the subject of controversy when videos from his Snapchat account of him getting Nick Young to confess to him cheating on his then-fiancé Iggy Azalea were leaked.
Russell has done his best to repair his image since though, and he did that by working hard this summer to elevate his game. In four Las Vegas Summer League games Russell averaged 21.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.
He has also been working out at the Lakers practice facility every day along with some of the organization’s other young players.