(J Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com)
2017 Player Capsule: D'Angelo Russell
Perhaps the best method in evaluating D’Angelo Russell’s season is to look at his production after the All-Star break, when his minutes jumped up from 26.5 before the break to 33.3. In 21 games, he averaged 18.5 points on 42.5 percent field goals and 35.6 percent from 3-point range (2.5 makes per game), plus 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals to lead the team in each category. That’s a large enough sample size to draw some positive conclusions from, and even by looking at the season as a whole, Russell was very productive for a young guard, particularly one who often went from PG to SG within the same game.
Russell’s basketball talent is clear: He can score from outside, mid-range and at the rim with an array of jumpers, floaters and post moves. He can set up teammates in screen-and-roll action or out of set offensive plays, and he can handle the basketball. Having just turned 21 late in the season, Russell remains statistically ahead of pace of most current NBA All-Star guards in terms of production.
By the Numbers
1.5: More assists per game averaged than in his rookie year (3.3 to 4.8), despite playing almost exactly the same number of minutes. His assists per 36 minutes bump up to 6.0 per game, which would have ranked 18th in the NBA.
3.2: Deflections per game for Russell after the All-Star break, which ranked 15th, overall in the NBA. That’s a good sign moving forward if Russell can continue to use his length and mind from the guard spot to get in passing lanes and disrupt opponents.
40: Points dropped by Russell on the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, one higher than his rookie season-high of 39, which was the most by a rookie Laker since Elgin Baylor in 1959. Russell hit 14-of-22 FG’s, including 7-of-12 3's.
After getting input from Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and Luke Walton, Russell relayed that he’s going to focus on improving his body – reducing body fat, adding muscle – and focus on his leadership and consistency. His skill set is already quite advanced for his age, and growing in those off-the-court areas would really make for a strong complement to his skill set. There’s no reason to limit the hope for what Russell can turn into as a complete basketball player, as all of the tools are there.