With the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell.
There was much speculation heading into the draft over whether the Lakers would ultimately decide to adopt the current trend of having multiple perimeter players capable of attacking, creating and distributing such as Russell or if they would elect to go with a route they are more accustomed to in taking a big man such as Jahlil Okafor.
A legitimate argument could have been (and was) made for both directions, but it is clear the Lakers have decided their best bet is placing their future hopes in the talented hands of 6’5 Russell. The league and overall game continues to develop and change, as the most recent Finals (no featured big man) is evidence of such.
In Russell, you are getting a next-level ball-handler and passer that- although not considered to be a supreme athlete – should make him highly effective at generating offense for these Lakers. His 41.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc (6.6 attempts per game) as a freshman for Ohio State should come as a welcomed addition to the team that ranked just 25th in three pointers made per game in 2014-15.
Kobe Bryant has reigned supreme along the perimeter for the better part of the past 20 seasons for Los Angeles, but the Lakers clearly needed a solution and perhaps someone to pair in the backcourt alongside last year’s surprising rookie Jordan Clarkson as Bryant’s career draws to an end. With Russell and Clarkson, they could finally have the type of backcourt interchangeability to compete with other teams that have gone to a more guard-oriented attack.
Russell averaged 19.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 5.0 APG in his single season in college, and it is precisely that type of versatility and ability to fill the stat sheet in various ways that has so many supporters of the team excited over the young core they’ve put together in L.A. Although there was plenty of speculation over whether the Lakers would ultimately find a way to work out a deal for Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, the Lakers now find themselves in a position of likely hitting the free agency market for a rim-protecting big man. The Lakers could have as much as $27.3 million to work with on the open market.
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