D’Angelo Russell looked poised. He followed through with stellar “actions” this past Lakers Summer, perhaps with a bit of a chip on his shoulder from the previous season.
He has since followed through with more “ice in his veins” moments this season and has increased his offensive production and efficiency.
We all know by now that D’Angelo can shoot. There were some doubters; especially through the first 25 games or so last season.
What about his Defense?
All players, especially the young ones, struggle with defense. D’Angelo has admitted that his defense needs improvement and that it has been bad at times. This accountability shows leadership and maturity. And, in D’Angelo’s very young career we have seen him follow through with the actions that back up his words.
A player is always going to shoot. It is the easiest thing in basketball to practice. Even Ivica Zubac has been chucking up threes in pre-games (D-Fenders).
The Lakers young “point guard” has missed 12 games due to a “sore knee” and that can only hinder any progression in the area of defense.
It seems this injury is a microcosm of the Lakers woes. For every step forward there appears to be a step or two going in the reverse direction.
What is even more frustrating is to see such talented players lack energy, effort and fundamental positioning on defense.
Russell was already getting easily turned on defense with very little resistance to the opposition’s guards. His help defensive positioning is generally lackadaisical and he tends to lunge or throw out his hand as a method of “help,” as opposed to side-stepping for proper “help” defensive-positioning.
Q: Did D’Angelo Russell take as much or more time working on leg and knee strengthening as he has on his hair-d0?
Q: Did D’Angelo Russell take as much or more time on working on proper defensive stance and positioning as he did on his shot these past few weeks?
If the Answer is “NO” to both of these questions then not only is “D’AngeRUSS” not ready to comeback he will hurt the team. The Lakers announced that Russell WILL be in the lineup tonight against the Knicks…
D’Angelo Russell will play tonight on a minutes restriction. Nick Young will be a game-time decision.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 12, 2016
The offensive gaps, at point guard, have actually been filled nicely by Jose Calderon and now Marcelo Huertas.
It has been other Lakers like Jordan Clarkson and Luol Deng, who’s inconsistent play and lack of productivity has hurt the TEAM (offensively).