When D’Angelo Russell was demoted to the bench by Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott, many began to label the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft as a bust. However, since All-Star Weekend, Russell is averaging 19.4 points and 4.6 assists in 32.1 minutes per game.
While it will take a couple seasons before the Lakers really know if they made the right decision, Russell has shown his potential and there are positive feelings about the direction of the franchise once Kobe Bryant retires.
In an exclusive interview with Michael Lee of The Vertical, Russell talked about the highs and lows of his rookie season with the Lakers:
“When you come to the Laker franchise, it puts way much more on you as a player. Once you’re a Laker, you’re always going to be among the cream of the crop. I wanted that,” Russell told The Vertical. “I wanted to embrace it and that’s what I’ve been trying to do, because it can make you or break you. And adversity sets in, when you go through hard times, being a Laker, like me not starting being the No. 2 pick, everybody is like, ‘He’s not starting, he’s a bust.’ And I didn’t really take advantage of the opportunity that I had. Now that I have the opportunity, I’ve been showing just a little bit of what I can do and what I can make happen for myself. That’s all that it’s about.”
Along with Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson have been impressive. While Randle is a walking double-double, Clarkson is starting to establish himself as a consistent three-point shooter.
With the young core playing well, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers are able to land a big-name free agent with the ample cap space they have.