D’Angelo Russell returned to the Lakers’ starting lineup four games ago. Since that return he has averaged 17 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 31.5 minutes a night. Beyond the numbers, though, he’s looked steady, confident, and in control of the team’s offense and his own individual game.
No where is this more clear than in how Russell is attacking the basket in both the half court and in transition. When working in the P&R, Russell is finding ways to get to the rim more often and in the open court he’s being more aggressive in looking to finish which is opening up more passing angles when the defense decides they are going to try and cut him off.
It turns out, though, that sometimes Russell doesn’t even need a passing angle to open up. Sometimes it seems he’ll just create one out of thin air, fabricating an opening to get off a pass. Such was the case against the Grizzlies on Friday on a sweet dish to Julius Randle for a two-handed dunk:
Nutmeg ?? Dunkhttps://t.co/CMK9Yhm5j7
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 27, 2016
When I watched the play live, I really did not know what happened. It was only upon viewing multiple replays that I saw Russell actually threaded the needle to Randle by passing the ball through Zach Randolph’s legs.
Russell has many gifts as an offensive player. His soft touch around the rim, range on his jumper, and feel as a cutter all help him as a scorer. But it’s his ability as a passer, like in the play above, which really stands out. Hopefully we’ll be seeing these types of plays from Russell to Randle for years to come.