D’Angelo Russell does not have a very bright future ahead of him. Respect the loyal fans of the Los Angeles Lakers to remain in denial. Having said that, it’s time to swallow the bitter pill.
Over the weekend, conflicting reports emerged that the Lakers had put Russell on the trading block. As expected, the Lakers Front Office vehemently denied the rumors.
If logic were to prevail, the Lakers should be looking to move Russell before the rookie is exposed even further. It’s already clear that the point guard has too many shortcomings to thrive in the modern NBA dominated by athletes such as Russell Westbrook and John Wall.
Losing trade value….
At this stage, plenty of NBA GMs are still optimistic that Russell could turn a corner – under the right coach and system. Therefore, the Lakers would be wise to trade Russell for a valuable asset – instead of waiting any longer to the point where the Ohio State rookie loses any market value.
Prior to the start of the season, the Sacramento Kings were actually ready to part with DeMarcus Cousins for the young trio of Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson. League sources say that Lakers were unwilling to part with Russell. In hindsight, they should have pulled the trigger.
Russell could have all the court vision in the world. But a lack of lower-body strength prevents him from getting to the right spots, in order to make the right plays for his teammates. If you witnessed the Los Angeles Derby over the weekend, Russell just wandered around the perimeter like a lost soul for most of the game.
Why blame Byron Scott?
It’s unfair to blame Lakers coach Byron Scott for Russell’s below-average performances. Let’s acknowledge that Russell was thrust with a starting role in his very first game as a NBA player – back in October against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 28.
After starting D’Angelo Russell for a dozen games or so, Scott finally realized that the rookie wasn’t ready for the big leagues. Surely, Russell has shown flashes of good player – especially against Kings and Spurs (twice) – but a season PER of 12.98 illustrates that the No.2 pick is a bust.
Last week, Scott benched Russell for “trying to take over a game.” The rookie and coach are at loggerheads. This does not bode well for the future of the Purple & Gold.
Outshined by rookie peers…
Let’s compare Russell to his contemporaries, shall we? Let’s stick to advanced stats, which always paint the apt picture of a player:
Karl Anthony-Towns: PER of 22.58
Jahlil Okafor: PER of 16.83
Kristaps Porzingis: PER of 18.61
Myles Turner: PER of 19.25
Nikola Jokic: PER of 22.21
Besides the four aforementioned rookies, the likes of Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons), Justise Winslow (Miami Heat) and Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets) have all exhibited more promise than Russell.
Surely, Mudiay needs to work on his jump shot. But Mudiay is averaging close to 6 assists per game while Russell is barely averaging 3 assists per game. Mind you, Russell came into the league with a reputation of a “phenomenal playmaker.”
This is not a hasty conclusion. D’Angelo Russell would never be able to thrive against the elite point guards in the NBA. Laker fans just need to accept the cold truth and move on.