L.A. Lakers Have No Idea What D’Angelo Russell Can Become

LOS ANGELES — Is Los Angeles Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell a “true” point guard? Will he spend the next 8-10 years of his career running high pick-and-rolls, attacking in transition and dicing set defenses up with an effortlessly unpredictable handle and unselfish vision?

Or—in the shadows of a 39-point breakthrough performance on Tuesday night against the hapless Brooklyn Nets, followed by a 24-point outing in Denver the very next night—are his skills better served as a primary scorer? Someone who relentlessly hunts his own shot on every other touch, darts into open space whenever off the ball, jacks up tough shots and spaces the floor?

The Lakers don’t have to answer what isn’t an either/or proposition right now because multiple particles are already ingrained in Russell’s DNA. He’s a positionless gem in a league that’s sprinting away from labels, with a skill set that’s adaptable, fluid and deadly. 

How high he soars from here is anybody’s guess, much less where Russell will be in five years.

Will he make an All-Star Game or two, or was his 39-point eruption against a 17-win team the ultimate tease—think about Brandon Jennings’ 55-point outing when he was a 20-year-old rookie back in 2009.

Russell’s poise, fearlessness and natural grace will make anyone who’s seen a good chunk of his career lean toward the former. A supremely gifted offensive player, with an enviable combination of size, quickness, length and intuition, the 20-year old already anticipates movement before it happens and can read a rotating defense from several different vantage points—whether he’s trying to shake his man while slithering along the baseline, or standing 30 feet from the rim about to get a high screen.

Over the past six games, the 6'5" rookie is averaging 21.8 points, 5.0 assists a...

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