D’angelo Russell is a premier Point Guard in the NBA and plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. He played college basketball at Ohio State until he was drafted as the number two overall pick in the NBA Draft. At age 19, his first professional season was disastrous, which ultimately ended up being the worst season (17-65) in Lakers history.
Russell started his rookie season with high expectations, but it quickly went south. Although he was playing well, he did not see eye-to-eye with former head coach Bryon Scott. Scott did not appreciate Russell’s lack of maturity. He believed Russell lacked work ethic and joked around too much. It got so bad that Russell was benched during a game for being too cocky. Being benched for one game ultimately led to Russell being benched for 20 games in 2015. Scott favored playing veteran’s such as Lou Williams and Marcelo Huertas in an attempt to save the season. Critics believed Bryon Scott’s actions were to severe and hurt the rookie’s overall development.
Fast forward to the summer of 2016, Scott is gone and head coach Luke Walton is pushing Russell to become a leader. Walton’s positive attitude has influenced Russell to come out of his shell as the team’s point guard. His position requires him to be the coach on the court, guard the opposing teams point guard, and press the attack on offense. Russell is responding and starting to show signs of leadership. He has been in the gym every day since the offseason ended trying to improve his game. Furthermore, Russell is more vocal and his understanding of the game has increased. Metta World Peace, Lakers Small Forward, recalls Russell telling him “I’m going to be that guy”.
There are a lot of hopes and doubts for the Lakers and D’angelo Russell in the upcoming 2016-2017 season. In 3 weeks, the Lakers will start the regular season with expectations of Russell leading this young team. I personally believe that Russell will bounce back from his mediocre performance from last year. He has the coach and right amount of veterans around him to help him have a breakout year. Let me know what you think. Will the young Russell be the leader, or wind up being led?