New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton liked what he saw from D’Angelo Russell in one of their recent workouts in Las Vegas, saying that the incoming sophomore has great leadership qualities.
During his interview on “The Big Podcast With Shaq” show, Walton said that he has been working with their young guns over the past weeks. Based on what he saw in recent practice sessions, Walton thinks that Russell could eventually become their leader next season.
“As far as being vocal in practice, and doing what we ask of him as a coaching staff, and coming in early and after practice and getting work in,” Walton said of Russell. “So right now he’s shown that he’s capable of being a leader, and that he’s working on being a leader.”
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Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, had a shaky start during his rookie season but showed flashes of brilliance in the latter part of the year. The 20-year-old point guard averaged 13.2 points on top of 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the Lakers.
Walton also had nothing but praises for Julius Randle. The incoming rookie head coach said Randle could also become a leader like Russell but Walton admitted that it will still be a process, hinting that fans should temper their expectations for the upcoming season.
Meanwhile, in other Lakers news, general manager Mitch Kupchak believes they made the right decision to draft Croatian youngster Ivica Zubac. Zubac had a fair share of the spotlight in the summer league, showing potential on both ends of the floor.
Kupchak admitted that they had low expectations for Zubac because he still needs to develop in the coming years. He said, though, that they think the second-round pick, who averaged 10.6 points on top of 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in the Summer League, proved that he is ready to contribute next season.
“He’s a young player that’s gonna need time to develop as well,” Kupchak said in an interview with Lakers.com. “But I think he’s a little bit ahead of what we thought.”