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Russell Looks to Capitalize on Starting Role

After two months of coming off the bench, D’Angelo Russell isn’t taking his renewed starting role for granted.

Following his 22-point, eight-assist effort at Memphis on Wednesday, Russell told reporters that he felt like he was simply given the starting role at the end of the season.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I earned it (back), but for some reason Coach (Byron Scott) threw me back in the starting lineup,” Russell said at Thursday’s practice. “And I don’t want to look back from that. … I just want to build that trust now, so next year he knows that can run with the young guys in the backcourt.”

So far, the 20-year-old has made his case by providing 15.3 points, 6.0 assists and 2.7 3-pointers in three games since returning among the starters.

He credited his success in Memphis to a less passive approach.

“As I was aggressive, I was making shots,” he said. “So a lot of it opened up.”

Meanwhile, his coach has approved of the development that the second overall pick made while serving as a reserve.

“Every month, he gets better,” Scott said. “He’s really starting to understand. I think the game is slowing down for him. He’s playing harder. He’s playing much (more) under control.

“I think his game is not so much reliant on his 3-point shooting now. He’s getting to the basket more, taking his mid-range game. He’s mixing it up more on that end of the floor. You just see strides in him every month.”