Is D’Angelo Russell Ready for Redemption with the Los Angeles Lakers?

Joshua Lea | June 29th, 2019

This time last year, Laker fans were rejoicing in the fact that LeBron James chose to dawn the purple and gold. Laker fans instantly envisioned championships and former glory restored. However, last season wasn’t a testament to what the Lakers could eventually become.

Injuries and subpar play rendered the Lakers to finish 10th in the Western Conference, leaving James out of the playoffs. In the words of Rafiki from the Lion King, It doesn’t matter it’s in the past. This offseason the Lakers pulled off the impossible of trading for Anthony Davis. As the storm from that particular trade has died down, the Lakers are now looking to add more to their roster, thus putting them in position to dominate the Western Conference.

Whether you’re a Laker fan or not, you have to appreciate the steadfastness of the Lakers in their decision making. I am in no way saying Rob Pelinka is going to be GM of the year. However, Pelinka has taken baby steps in that direction since Magic Johnson departed from his position. The Lakers have the money to sign a player to a max deal. They’re being linked to Kawhi Leonard, D’Angelo Russell, Kyrie Irving, and others to assist James and Davis.

The Importance of a Good Point Guard

The most critical position in today’s NBA is the point guard position. Some of the NBA’s most prolific players are point guards. I don’t care how you look at it; if you don’t have a solid point guard, you’re not sniffing a championship in the NBA. Furthermore, James has stated multiple times that he wants to play off the ball more and decrease his load of running the offense.

The Lakers need a point guard that is a pass-first guard. Of the free agent point guards lurking in the shadows of the NBA offseason, there isn’t a standout candidate. Sure, you could grab Irving and reunite him with James. However, is that the right move?

Chemistry is the most overlooked aspect of the NBA. Fans believe that you can place five players together and they’ll get along like a boy band. However, that isn’t always the case. Look at Carmelo Anthony with Houston last season, that experiment didn’t work. It wasn’t as bad as Chernobyl, but still. Another point guard that is on the free agent list is D’Angelo Russell.

The idea of Russell teaming up with James and Davis is interesting. We all recall the devastating Laker career of Russell. Sure, he played well. However, off the court, he wasn’t exactly the ideal leader for the Lakers.

Russell has grown somewhat since being traded from the Lakers. His play on the court last season was superb. Averaging 21 points and seven assists on 43 percent shooting, Russell made his presence known with Brooklyn.

Can Russell Play with James?

There are multiple questions about Russell playing with James. One, is he mature enough to play with James? Seriously, playing with players like James requires a certain amount of maturity. Russell did play with Kobe Bryant. However, you can chalk that up to being wet behind the ears.

Another question regarding Russell on the Lakers is his decision making. Is he capable of making the right plays in crunch time? Last season, Russell played well in the playoffs against Philadelphia. However, his role with the Lakers would not be the same as it was with Brooklyn. He’ll need to be a playmaker and a pass-first point guard. Is he capable of doing this? This reunion between Russell and the Lakers seems like a good idea. Russell is arguably the second best free agent point guard in this offseason.

The Lakers have to execute the signing of a point guard flawlessly. They have to hit a home run and complete a hail mary. James and Davis have played with tremendous point guards in their careers. Russell is a risk to sign at the point guard spot. However, it would be the most logical choice. Also, it would be fun to watch to see if Russell is ready for redemption.

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