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It is really not that easy to find a silver lining for the 2015-16 Los Angeles Lakers season. Maybe if you are a total sentimental fool, you might think that Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour has been touching and cute. The team has played an appalling season, the losses are piling up and the many bandwagon Lakers fans are putting on Warriors jerseys, sometimes in the middle of the game.
— Cam MVP (@mundogutierrez1) January 6, 2016
There have been two bright spots in the Lakers’ season, but you have to look pretty hard to find them….Past the trainwreck that this season has been on the whole. These two bright sports have been Jordan Clarkson and to a much greater degree D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ rookie whom they drafted second overall in last year’s NBA Draft.
It hasn’t been that long since Byron Scott put Russell back in the starting lineup last month and he is already posting 21 points, 4.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds a game, all the while shooting 47.4 from the field and a whopping 46.3 from three-point. In that same timespan, the Lakers won three games, one of which was against the Golden State Warriors.
All he needed was a chance, which hasn’t been exactly handed to him by coach Scott, perhaps the most perplexing presence in the Lakers organization. It has been clear from the get-go that this season was going to be a lost one and for some reason, Scott still found reasons to keep Russell on the bench. In a situation like this, you let the young guys play as much as possible.
This is not the first time Russell had to deal with something like this. Something similar happened to him in high school when he had to twist his coach’s arm to play him more. The story changed in college where he also adopted first-class work habits. It was in college where he really decided to become one of the best in the game.
According to none other than Shaquille O’Neal, he is well on his way. Last week, O’Neal said on TNT that Russel was “wired like us.” By us, he meant himself and Kobe. Knowing Shaq, this is high praise indeed.
The best thing about Russell is that he knows it and that he will remind you of it if you have the nerve to forget it. For his sake, we hope the Lakers change the coach and finally start rebuilding this team next year.