The Summer League is officially over for the Los Angeles Lakers. After winning three out of the five games played in Las Vegas, the Lakers will head back to Los Angeles with high hopes for the future with D’Angelo Russell leading the way.
Russell came into Summer League determined to turn some heads. The 20-year-old did just that with a few impressive performances to go along with some new-found leadership qualities while showing his confidence is now on another level.
On Friday, new Lakers head coach Luke Walton made an appearance on LA Today with Bill Reiter and Leeann Tweeden to talk about what he saw from his players in Summer League. Walton especially impressed with his floor general:
“He’s been absolutely phenomenal for us,” Walton said of Russell. “He’s been a leader, he’s been talking in practice and trying to constantly pick the coaches brains about what we see.
“He’s in the gym every morning before we even got to Summer League working out, then coming back at night and working out. His work ethic and his desire to play the way we want him to play, and his competitive nature have been incredible in the short amount of time that me and my staff have been down here.”
With Kobe Bryant now retired, it appears that Russell is more than ready to step into the spotlight while becoming the leader on the basketball floor for the Lakers. Russell’s work ethic and ability to be a leader on the floor was put into question during his rookie season, but he’s already made strides to change the narrative.
Along with Russell, the Lakers brass saw promise in both their rookies during Summer League. Although Brandon Ingram struggled at times, he finished strong with a 22-point performance in the final game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ivica Zubac went from a relatively unknown player to fan favorite and potentially someone that could play a significant role next season.
There’s a long road ahead for the Lakers, and there’s bound to be plenty of bumps along the way, but Walton’s talented young core has Lakers fans excited for the future as it appears the franchise has taken steps in the right direction.