D'Angelo Russell

D’Angelo Russell showing Signs of Developing into a Potent Scorer

(Photo via SportingNews.com)

D’Angelo Russell has come out of the gate strong in Summer League for the Lakers. In the Lakers opening game on Friday Russell impressed with a great all-around game, scoring 20 points and adding 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Since game 1 Russell has increased his scoring in each of the following games; on Monday he scored 26 but 22 of those points came in the 1st half and was well on his way to a big scoring night before taking his foot of the gas in the 2nd half.

Russell showed his sweet stoke from the outside and ability to finish around the basket with touch last season but early on signs of the work he’s put in this off-season is apparent with improved handle of the basketball on dribble drives and an added post game which he displayed in game 1.

In 3 games thus far, Russell is shooting an efficient 53.3 percent from the field and 47 percent from behind the 3 point line. Russell is averaging 22.7 points per game which is good for the team lead and currently ranks 5th in Summer League play.

Russell’s ability to score is pretty far ahead of the rest of his game at this point, especially in the setting up teammates  department where is averaging just 4 assists compared to 5 turnovers per game.

While Russell’s developing a potent scoring touch is encouraging it seems to conflict with the coaching staff’s approach with the team. After Monday’s game Lakers’ Summer League Head Coach Jesse Mermuys explained the team’s focus is working on developing the offensive system that the team plans to run which involves a lot of ball movement and less isolation.

“As a coach, I’m trying to rein him {Russell] in and that’s hard. That’s a hard process where I want him to feel confident and we want him to have that swag, and it’s unbelievable. It’s powerful.” said Mermuys after Monday’s game.

Reining in is exactly what happened on Monday with Russell only scoring 4 second half points after exploding for 22 points in the first half.

While it might not be encouraged by the coaching staff, Russell’s scoring outburst in Summer League is a positive sign that he’s taking steps towards reaching that star potential which is something the organization desperately needs. Ability to score, especially by way of the player creating his own shot, is the trait of a star and it is what Russell has been exhibiting.

A consistent 20 point per game plus scorer is also something that the current Lakers team will need as none of the Lakers on the current roster averaged more than 16 points per game last season. A player leading a team with an average lower than 16 points per game would be incredibly low for a playoff level team which is something that Lakers hope to become as early as this season. Jordan Clarkson had the highest points per game average last season of the players on the Lakers current roster (15.5 ppg), with Lou Williams a close 2nd (15.3 ppg). It is looking like Russell looks could fill this need for the Lakers this season.

Of course we have to remind ourselves that this is just Summer League play and it is quite a big drop off from what the level of competition that is expected in the regular season but with such a young team that has not yet reached their full potential you just look for positive signs of development and right now it is Russell that is exhibiting them from the offensive end.

Lakers 3-0 record has earned them a first round bye in the Summer League playoffs; they’ll start tournament play on Thursday. The first round of the playoffs will start on Wednesday.

 

 

 

Writer & NBA fan who’s been hooked since the days of Magic v Bird. Love basketball debates without it ending in a knife fight. My BBall nickname: “Todo El Dia” (All Day.) Hit me up on Twitter @fullcourtfern or Instagram: @raining3sdotcom