Los Angeles Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell is enjoying his chance to be more aggressive and more involved as a scorer as of late, lauding the difference between his role in the 2023 Western Conference Semifinals and the one he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2022-23 regular season.

In fact, as he revealed to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Russell felt so boxed-in as player that by mid-January he was running scrimmages with the Timberwolves bench players. Not just for the extra reps but to regain the confidence he lost while playing for them.

“Yeah, so I would play in that because I felt that my confidence was being taken away with the style that I was playing in,” Russell says. “I’m a killer, man. I’m a bird that needs to fly, and I couldn’t really fly there.”

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Russell was playing significant minutes for the Timberwolves. However, a 15-game mid-season stretch between Dec. 19 and Jan. 18 saw him averaging 16.9 points and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 44.2 percent from the floor. Notably, Russell was averaging only 12.1 field goal attempts in 33.4 minutes per game.

“They put me in a box that I was successful in,” Russell continues to explain, “… but I did that for confidence. I enjoy just playing, and I would play some of my best games in that (run), because I didn’t really have a rhythm (in the real games). I had to kind of cater to guys. And respectfully, I was with it because we were winning. But I know what type of player I am.”

Notching 21 points in the Lakers victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3, Russell got the ball rolling. It was the second time this postseason that he’s scored at least 20 points.