Leading up to the 2015 NBA Draft D’Angelo Russell was a sure bet to be the next NBA Superstar. Russell’s transition to the NBA game proves that nothing is a sure bet. He lost his starting job early in the season and is sitting during crunch time. That was his introduction to the NBA but now he’s beginning to come on strong and showing why the Lakers picked him 3rd overall.
In a recent game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks he finished with 19 points and seven assists with only one turnover. The clip below shows him handling the Bucks trap on a high pick-and-roll with a beautiful one handed pass that finds the rolling center for a dunk.
The very next play Russell reads the adjustment the Bucks made and he sees that the weak side has shifted over to take away the roller. Instead he sends a cross-court pass to an open Clarkson at the three-point line.
Russell drives baseline and sucks in the defense which creates an open three for Nick Young. This is a great example of a baseline drive and a baseline drift.
Russell’s playmaking ability and scoring touch is what makes him a top 3 talent and can lead to superstardom for him.
However, there will still be growing pains, mostly on the defensive end. Too many times he lets his man get into the paint too easily like the example below.
This puts a ton of pressure on the big guys to cover for him. In addition to that he needs to keep his attention on his guy. On the next clip, after hitting a three, he gives up the easiest 2 points the Bucks had all night.
Russell is not in a defensive stance and ball watching with no awareness at all that his man is cutting behind him. Russell still takes two steps to where he last left him but not where he is.
There is no doubt D’Angelo Russell has talent. As he continues to grow as a player he can become the man the Lakers are hoping will pick up the torch after Kobe Bryant retires but he still has work to do.