Archives For D’Angelo Russell

It was the Lakers’ first game after a nice Christmas win and D’Angelo Russell really wasn’t shooting the ball that great. The opponent was the Jazz and Russell closed the game with only 4 points on 2-11 shooting. Fans were in my twitter mentions telling me I was being overly praiseful of the Lakers’ 2nd year point guard because I had the audacity to tweet this.

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The walking wounded Lakers may have reinforcements coming. Both D’Angelo Russell (at least 2 weeks) and Nick Young (2-4 weeks) are in the window of time in which they may be ready to return and it looks like it will happen for both sooner than later:

Luke Walton also noted that Nick Young practiced fully on Saturday, with the implication he too should return shortly. So it looks as though Sunday’s game against the Knicks is a realistic target for Russell, with Monday looking almost close to certain. Young could potentially join him on Monday.

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The Lakers are the proverbial walking wounded right now. Nick Young is out with a strained calf. Jose Calderon is out with a strained hamstring. In Monday’s loss to the Jazz, Tarik Black sprained his ankle and did not return to the game. Larry Nance, Jr. sat out the game vs. the Jazz with a knee contusion. And, of course, D’Angelo Russell has been out with knee soreness and the resulting PRP injection he took to stimulate healing. That’s four key rotation players and the point guard who has replaced Russell while he’s been out.

There may be some good news on the horizon, though. At least in terms of Russell.

Russell’s initial diagnosis was that he’d be out at least two weeks. We are approaching that mark now, so it’s good to hear that he is (essentially) on schedule. Though he will not travel on Wednesday (which would be 14 days since the injection), the fact that he is progressing enough to get back on the court is promising. This doesn’t mean he will be ready to play by weeks end, though.

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We already knew D’Angelo Russell, after missing Tuesday’s game against the Thunder, was ruled out for today’s game against the Warriors. It turns out, however, that he will be out longer than just those two games. According to the team, he received a PRP injection into his left knee and will be out a minimum of two weeks. He will be reevaluated after one week, likely to see how his knee has taken to the injection.

For those who are not familiar with PRP, it is similar to the treatments Kobe used to travel to Germany to treat his knee issues in the second half of his career. Per wikipedia, PRP “is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets. As a concentrated source of autologous platelets, PRP contains several different growth factors and other cytokines that can stimulate healing of soft tissue.” In layman’s terms, they take some of Russell’s own blood, treat it in a way to concentrate the platelets (which promote healing), and then inject it back into the area which you want to feel better — in this case, Russell’s knee.

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The other night I was out with a friend having a drink and talking basketball. In between some NSFW commentary on topics from around the league, he asked me about D’Angelo Russell. My buddy, an OKC Thunder fan, said he really likes Russell and wants him to do well. He asked me if I had any concerns about Russell (I will get to my answer to that in a minute) and then we went on to discuss how good we think he can be as a player.

In Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves, Russell did not play well. It took him 10 shots to score his 7 points and he struggled defensively, both when trying to contain Ricky Rubio off the dribble and when forced to switch onto other wings/bigs. This type of game isn’t indicative of how Russell has played all season, but it’s also not the first time it has happened. In a loss against the Pacers he scored 11 points on 3-10 shooting and the Pacers attacked him with Paul George down the stretch, intentionally singling him out by forcing switches defensively. A loss against the Jazz saw him score 9 points on 3-14 shooting while George Hill cooked offensively on the other end.

For the season, Russell is scoring 15.4 points a night and dishing 4.7 assists. He’s shooting 40.5% from the floor, including 35.9% from distance. If these numbers sound familiar, it’s because they are quite similar to the ones he posted last season: 13.2 points, 3.2 assists, 41.0% shooting from the field, and 35.9% from behind the arc. Russell is scoring and assisting better and in fewer minutes a night, but if you look at his shot charts, things this year resemble last year.

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I think it’s more than fair to say D’Angelo Russell has had an up and down preseason. Against the Blazers on Tuesday, Russell only mad 6 of his 21 shot attempts, missing all 9 of his three pointers in the process. In the Lakers’ exhibition opener against the Kings, he only scored 4 points while connecting on only 2 of his 8 field goals.

Those bad nights, however, have been balanced against some very good ones. In two games against the Nuggets he combined for 54 points on 60.6% shooting from the field while hitting 8-15 three pointers. If you want to nitpick, he only had 8 total assists over those two games while also racking up 6 turnovers. This led to some discussion about balancing Russell’s scoring and playmaking for others, with some arguing they would appreciate more of the latter even though they greatly appreciate his skill with the former.

On Thursday against the Kings, though, there was no longing for more of anything. Russell was fantastic as a scorer and as a passer, tallying 31 points (on only 14 shots) and dishing out 11 assists to go against only 2 turnovers. In the 3rd quarter alone he had 13 points and 4 assists while not turning the ball over once. He was dominant and helped turn an 18 point deficit into only 2 points heading into the 4th quarter.

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In my preview for Sunday’s Lakers vs. Nuggets preseason game, I wrote the following about what I was watching for with D’Angelo Russell:

Can Russell come close to duplicating Friday’s effectiveness? When Russell is on offensively, he is a terror. His feel for scoring is fantastic and his ability to get buckets at all three levels of the floor stands out compared to some of his PG peers. On Friday he had his entire game working and I would love for the same thing to be the case today.

Russell didn’t just come close to duplicating his previous game’s effort, he surpassed it.

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You know the drill. We did this last year and the series lives on with updates for the 2016-17 Lakers’ roster. First up in our series is D’Angelo Russell and his spot up shooting. Enjoy.

We already told you D’Angelo Russell is on the verge of a breakout season. And while our focus was mostly on the team/coaches nurturing his confidence and, via a more consistent model of deployment, gained experience, we cannot possibly ignore how an adjustment of the X’s and O’s from the system Luke Walton will employ should help Russell’s game.

Last season the Lakers ranked last in FG% on catch and shoot shots (35.5%) and 2nd to last in points produced on catch and shoot shots (19.8). The Warriors, meanwhile, ranked first in both categories (42.8%, 33.7 points per game). The first reaction this should be, well, duh. The Warriors have the best shooters in the league. Steph and Klay are dominant catch and shoot players and have the eternal green light to fire at will.

But, it’s important to note that the Warriors’ offense was designed to create those types of shots. Golden State ran a lot of P&R’s and were an excellent passing team which also focused on attacking closeouts off the dribble to further produce open jumpers. Luke Walton, of course, is now the Lakers’ coach and he will try to bring some of that magic to his new team.

The Lakers will not get the system down pat right away, but them even trying to implement it means the players are going to benefit from more catch and shoot opportunities than they did last season. And there’s few Lakers’ who will benefit more from these chances than D’Angelo Russell.

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