D’Angelo Russell’s performance in last year’s Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets had many wondering whether he was worth the contract the Los Angelse Lakers ultimately gave him during the summer.
In L.A.’s first game of the new season, Russell had the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.
He didn’t take it, though.
Once again, Russell was wholly unimpressive against Denver on Tuesday night – finishing with 11 points on 12 shots and three turnovers.
That wasn’t the worst of it, though. The worst part was that Russell continued his longstanding pattern of spotty decision-making. One sequence, in particular, really exemplified his problem.
It occurred when LeBron James explicitly told him how they could take advantage of the Nuggets’ defense. How did Russell respond? By ignoring him entirely.
LeBron telling D’Angelo Russell that he is open at the elbow out of the pick and roll vs switching and he sees everything to playmake – so naturally, he ignores him and shoots an ISO 3. pic.twitter.com/HjkKyXUEEK
— Coach Gibson Pyper (@HalfCourtHoops) October 25, 2023
Russell is what James has been stuck with anyway, though. And a lot of Los Angeles’ championship aspirations will ride on what sort of player the 27-year-old chooses to become this year.
Jackson Mahomes awkwardly tries to touch Taylor Swift: https://t.co/cDiUDfkBvv
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 24, 2023
Ever since he came into the league, Russell has always had the raw talent to succeed. That was never in question.
Putting all his natural gifts to proper use and becoming a consistently complete player – that is where Russell has continuously struggled.
Will 2023 be the year Russell finally emerges as the sort of player the Lakers desperately need him to be? Time will tell.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.