Los Angeles Lakers fans have lots of reasons to be excited. The Lakers have a trio of young players that have some star potential. Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Jordan Clarkson have been selected in the NBA Draft over the past two seasons.
The excitement begins with Russell. He was the second pick in the 2015 Draft and has the tools to become the face of the prized franchise. Russell is a 6-foot-5 guard who can run a team, thanks to his playmaking ability. He can play off the ball, as he is a polished scorer with a terrific shot. At Ohio State, Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The scary thing is that Russell is only 19 years old. Just imagine how his collegiate career would’ve gone if he had stayed a few more seasons. His game has a mixture of a few great NBA players, like James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Manu Ginobili. Like Harden and Ginobili, he can play on or off the ball and he has the shooting ability and silkiness that Curry possesses. Russell was a 41 percent 3-point shooter, with most of the shots coming off his own creation.
With the Lakers failing to land an All-Star (Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love), Russell will be a significant part of the offense right away. As of now it appears the Lakers will go with a small lineup of Russell, Clarkson, Kobe Bryant, Randle, and Roy Hibbert. This means that the Lakers’ entire lineup (except Hibbert) can handle the ball and is capable of starting a fast break.
The Lakers have more talent than they had the past two seasons, which means that an aging Bryant will be reliant on his teammates more than one expects. Russell won’t be a good defender right away, but he will do his job on offense.
The rookie of the year award is usually won by the rookie who has the best offensive numbers, and that will be Russell. With Jahlil Okafor playing on a Philadelphia 76ers team that lacks perimeter talent, it is Russell’s award to lose. I expect Russell to average around 17 points, 6 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. The Lakers won’t contend this season, but their future is bright with Russell running the show.