As the Los Angeles Lakers have gone through the worst stretch in the history of the franchise, the team was able to accumulate a number of high draft picks including three straight second overall selections.
The first of those was used on D’Angelo Russell, a talented, but raw guard who would need time to develop. Russell showed flashes of his talent in his two seasons with the Lakers, but also some immaturity both on and off the court that didn’t always endear him to fans, teammates and coaches.
The front office ultimately decided to move on, trading Russell to the Brooklyn Nets last summer. Now Russell has begun to realize his potential, making his first All-Star Game appearance this year.
He recently reflected on his time with the Lakers, admitting in an ESPN interview that he didn’t know how to be a pro when he entered the league:
“It’s a man’s league, for sure. A lot of guys come in young, thinking what they’re going to do right away and not understanding the process and what it takes to get there. I didn’t know what it took to be a pro in general. So what every naysayer and every critic said about me, it was probably true.”
It is always tough for a young player to come into the league and that is made even more difficult when you’re thrust into the spotlight for the NBA’s most popular franchise in the city of Los Angeles. Russell wasn’t ready to handle all that came with being in the NBA and he admitted as much.
It is very possible that Russell needed the wake-up call that was the trade, in order for him to get his career in order. He is still only 23 years old and is another example that judging players after just two seasons tends to be a foolish venture.