The Los Angeles Lakers have faced a trying season, sitting at dead last in the Western Conference at 20-48. With 14 games to play, the team has shut down Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng in an attempt to try new things with their young core.
One of those players facing the most change to his role is former Ohio State star, D’Angelo Russell.
After putting up 20.5 points on 44.8 percent shooting, while dishing out 5.4 assists in his first eight games out of the All-Star Break, Russell has since come off the bench. Even with those numbers, the change has come for the greater good of the future for the team.
“Be aggressive no matter what my role is,” Russell told Mark Medina. “Just be aggressive.”
The Lakers have a great young core of players, led by a young head coach in Luke Walton. Walton is very much still trying to figure things out, and knows that this is a crucial time for the Lakers in their development individually and as a team.
It’s because of that, that he’s playing around with rotations, benching Russell to further evaluate a more traditional point guard, Jordan Clarkson.
“I want him to respond better. I want him to be aggressive,” Walton said. “I want him to be really aggressive, even more so right now while he’s coming off the bench. That doesn’t mean he’s coming to shoot every time. But aggressive as far as pushing the ball, getting in the lane and every time he’s coming off of picks and playmaking as a way to get himself into the game quicker. It’s completely different when you start and naturally fall into the rhythm of the game. I want him to come out and be ultra aggressive in that role while he’s in it.”
Russell seems to have taken the change quite well, keeping to himself, putting in work and letting the numbers speak for themselves.
Whether Walton will keep Russell in his new role is unknown, but it would be hard to see a player of his caliber riding the bench as they move forward.