The Los Angeles Lakers selected D'Angelo Russell with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. With Russell in place as the team's reward for a franchise worst season, our staff put their heads together to detail what they thought immediately after the selection was announced.
My first reaction to the Lakers drafting Russell was one of surprise, then excitement, and then looking up highlight videos, shot charts, and stats to start the process of getting myself irrationally excited for Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson getting out in transition for possibly the best fast break a Lakers team has run since Showtime. While I personally would have selected Okafor, Russell could very well prove me wrong, and the tank looks to have paid off beautifully.
Loved the pick, but I was going to be happy with either Russell or Okafor. I think Russell has the best chance of becoming a superstar though, and I'm glad the Lakers decided to swing for the fences. I wrote all about why D'Angelo would be a great pick the day after the lottery, and have been on board with selecting him ever since. Jordan Clarkson played extremely well with Jeremy Lin on the floor with him, but Russell's shooting and passing skills should make the Lakers 2-guard sets much more lethal. The Clarkson-Russell Slash and Splash Connection is going to be a ton of fun to watch. Is it time for summer league yet?
My first reaction was "Oh my goodness it's all going down." It's a surprise pick by the Lakers not because D'Angelo Russell is any less of a talent than Jahlil Okafor, but because it's an incredibly risky move. I've been a fan of Russell since I started seeing his highlights streaming across my Twitter timeline, so I'm more than happy to see him joining the Lakers. I'm just shocked Mitch Kupchak and the basketball operations team didn't decide to play it "safe" and go with the available big man after Minnesota's pick. I fully support picking D'Angelo, but I don't envy having to make that kind of decision.
My initial reaction to selecting Russell was despair, to the point where I didn't even hear Adam Silver be completely baller and say "from THE Ohio State University". I really thought Okafor had the chance to be a generational talent for the Lakers, and it will take some time to get on board with Russell. I do think Russell will help lessen Kobe's workload immediately, and be a solid point guard for many years to come. I also think this means the Lakers have some optimism for free agent bigs.
Mostly satisfied and excited. I said all along I'd be happy with either Russell or Okafor and went back and forth many times. But Russell was my favorite player in the draft, and he's just so damn fun to watch play. The Lakers got a great player for many years to come, and Laker fans get to watch someone that I think will be one of the most fun players in the league.
I was ecstatic. Okafor would have been a fine pick, but there was this small part of me that was chafing against the notion of drafting a lumbering center to pair next to Julius Randle. While that doubt was nothing that couldn't be quelled by a healthy dose of denial and a steady flow of reassurances containing words like "tradition", "old school", "pantheon" and "Wilt", I have to admit my relief when the Lakers took the player my gut was telling me they ought to. While a dominant back-to-the-basket center is a valuable, increasingly rare commodity, the opportunity to get a potentially transcendent perimeter playmaker in Russell was ultimately too good to pass up.