Well… The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t very good this year with a (14-51) record but there has been a little bit of promise shown within these past few days after beating the league-best Golden State Warriors and the Orlando Magic Tuesday night, a Magic team that isn’t too great either but considering the Lakers issues this year, they will take anything. The player who has displayed the most improvement over the course of three-fourths of the season is the player everyone expected and has been waiting for to step up, D’Angelo Russell.
The 20-year old rookie point guard’s season has been a long journey, dealing with Kobe Bryant who is one of the best players to ever play the game, but also has one of the strongest personalities in the game. This can break down some players, and lift up others…it just depends on the player. Earlier in the season, D’Angelo appeared like he would succumb to the pressure and sink as a player, at least in his first year. That isn’t the case though here lately, especially in the past seven games where he’s score 20-plus points in six of those. To be exact, Russell has averaged 23.1 points per game during this stretch, as well as 4.7 assists, which are both over his season averages of 13.3 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Not saying that this team is making a major u-turn on the road of success, but they are definitely taking a slight right turn towards that road, and things are starting to look a little, just a little clearer. It’s clear that the coveted second pick of the draft wont be a bust for one of the most historically successful NBA franchises.
Second-year guard, Jordan Clarkson has been the offensive backbone for this team so far this year, averaging 15.9 points, 4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game but consistency has been a slight problem for him throughout the year as well as pretty much every other guy suited up in a Laker uniform. Just like Russell, Clarkson has had a good last 7 games, minus the one he sat out on, averaging 19 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, both better than his season average as well.
There is a little glimpse of greatness on this team, Kobe has done a great job passing his knowledge along to these young players through all the frustration and shortcomings that this season brought. Anyone with eyes can see that these young players are getting better and more comfortable playing in the NBA. It’s just not quite translating in wins quite yet. This Laker team needs a veteran who can still be the number one or two guy on a team. With Russell and Clarkson only having about 3 total years experience combined, they still are growing and still trying to find a niche, making for two really good role-players behind a superstar. In the future, who knows what these two guys could be doing.
Photo Credit: RINGO H.W. CHIU, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS