â€œIâ€™ve got ice in my veins… Iâ€™ve got ice in my veins!â€ Those were the words of D’Angelo Russell as he nailed a three that put a dagger in the Brooklyn Nets. That sort of confidence and fearless attitude is exactly what the Lakers need pushing forward.
With the Kobe era coming to an end the weight of a franchise has fallen on Russellâ€™s shoulders. Thatâ€™s no problem for D’Angelo whoâ€™s had his fair share of leading teams.
It almost seems like heâ€™s been preparing for this since high school.
Russell attended Montverde Academy in Florida with future NBA prospect Ben Simmons. There he helped the school win back to back High School National Tournament championships.
At Ohio State he spearheaded the team averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5 assists a game. In a 79-60 win over Rutgers, Russell recorded a triple-double the first for a freshman at Ohio State. After his season he won the 2015 Oscar Robertson Trophy and Jerry West Award. He earned first team All-Big Ten honors, and added icing to the cake by being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Going into the NBA draft ESPN analyst gave him the best chance of being an NBA superstar. That being said they also gave him the biggest shot of being the biggest bust.
Those analytics aside the Lakers surprised most on passing up on Jahlil Okafor and selecting Russell with the second overall pick. As a Laker he initially struggled adapting to Byron Scottâ€™s system and the farewell Kobe tour.
Heâ€™s since turned his game around and has shown glimpses of how great he can be. His mentality and toughness drives him, and his passing ability trumps those of his rookie peers. Heâ€™s a solid shooter and can finish when he gets inside. Many see him as a fine replacement for Kobe Bryant.
Russell has some huge shoes to fill and like any rookie he has an enormous amount of room to grow. With an already impressive rookie season Lakers fans have a lot to look forward to.