Are the Lakers the Best Fit for D’Angelo Russell?


The NBA has shifted to a league that is dominated by guards. We saw how the Golden State Warriors won the championship without having anything close to a dominant big man. The NBA is a point guard driven league, and D’Angelo Russell is the best point guard in the upcoming draft.

As the draft gets closer, D’Angelo Russell’s stock seems to go up. Many basketball pundits from Charles Barkley to Jay Bilas are saying he’s the best “pure basketball player” in the draft. The rest of the country is just now realizing how much potential the former Buckeye has. With many expecting the Minnesota Timberwolves to use their first overall pick on Karl-Anthony Towns, that leaves Russell with a likely landing spot between picks two through six.

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Not many top five picks fall into ideal organizations. There’s a reason the teams selecting that high in the draft are there. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t places that wouldn’t be better suited for the skills that Russell brings. I’d love to see Russell blossom into an all-star point guard on the Sixers alongside Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel, but I don’t see him being a winner there anytime soon. With Embiid and Noel’s injury history along with the lack of stability in Philadelphia, I wouldn’t want to see Russell put into that situation and expected to be that franchise’s savior.

A team that I believe Russell would succeed immediately on is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are looking to transition into life without Kobe Bryant, and there’s no person in the draft that can ease that transition as smoothly as Russell can. I’m not in anyway saying Russell is the next Kobe, but he does have the potential to be the franchise’s premier guard for years to come.

Russell would also have the chance to learn under Byron Scott. Not only was Scott a top-tier guard in the league for 15 years, but he has experience turning young point guards into all-stars like he did with Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving. Russell could be the next person on that list.

Even though Russell is the Lakers’ best option for the future, he does provide them the best chance to win now as well. You know the Lakers are trying to give Kobe a chance for one more run, with their salary cap space and the return of Julius Randle from injury the Lakers could be posed to take a run at the playoffs this season. Even if they don’t make a run at any free agents and Bryant leaves soon, he would still be able to grow alongside Randle. They have the potential of being a lethal one-two punch for years to come.

While many players don’t have the ability to play on the big stage in LA, I believe Russell does. He isn’t afraid of playing in LA, he would embrace it. He recently told Yahoo Sports how he would handle playing alongside Kobe.

"“If I were to go to the Lakers, I wouldn’t want anybody to hand me anything. I wouldn’t expect Kobe to take me under his wing. I think he will want to see a resemblance of that hunger and fire that he came into the league with as a young kid. No one needs to be nicest guy in the world, or needs to pretend to be that. He will see through that, pick all that apart. I’ve got to be me.”"

He even went onto tell Yahoo Sports he was ready to accept the inescapable comparisons to Magic Johnson he’d get if he was selected by LA.

"“I want to work for it. I know I can earn it. I am not Magic Johnson and I’m not 6-9, but I am 6-5 and it gives me an advantage to see over the smaller guards. Watching Magic, you learned to turn your back, put the guards on your hip and then dice up the defense.”"

D’Angello Russell is ready for the challenge of becoming a Laker. He knows what he has to do and he’s ready to do it. Russell has the ability to succeed wherever he goes, but I believe the Lakers will give him the best chance to do that. We’ll just have to wait and see where he lands on Thursday night.

Next: Russell on ESPN

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