Lakers Drawing Closer to Drafting D’Angelo Russell to Lead Team into Next Era

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — If the Los Angeles Lakers draft Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell on Thursday night, as is the increasing likelihood, it will be for one simple reason.

They believe he is a star.

Although the Lakers respect Jahlil Okafor's size and skill (his defensive potential, not so much), momentum and consensus have been growing in the front office that Russell, not Okafor, is the special one.

It's not really so much the shift of the modern game toward the perimeter. This massive decision was always going to be about specific individuals, not the positions they play, and the vibe from Russell has been that he fits the mold of a leader, a winner and a Laker.

It didn't help that, according to team sources, Okafor's second predraft workout with the Lakers was a distinct drop-off from the first—whereas Russell was channeling Stephen Curry's velvety stroke in his follow-up workout with the team.

As trite as it might sound given Curry's unquestioned popularity as MVP and champion right now, the Lakers believe the comparison is legit.

And they love that Russell freely puts it forth. "I see a great resemblance," he said of himself and Curry after his first Lakers workout.

Russell's magical pass-or-shoot feel for the five-on-five dance and the two-inch height advantage he has on Curry make it easy to envision Russell fitting right in with all the NBA guards of this generation who dictate play.

But the idea that he will be better than the rest is why the Lakers have come around more toward him than Okafor.

Possessing a slight build, like Curry, Russell comes from the land of the underrated and overlooked. His own family never even projected he'd be good enough to turn pro after one college season.

Russell has been under the radar, having struggled to find the proper point guard platform to showcase all he c...

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