The Los Angeles Lakers will get an extensive opportunity to work out D'Angelo Russell Monday afternoon, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Russell is widely considered the only prospect who could shift the Lakers away from drafting a potential franchise center in Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns, making his workout with Los Angeles arguably the most important date in the pre-draft process.
The timing of this workout is perfect for the Lakers, who worked out Emmanuel Mudiay on Saturday. Getting a chance to measure up Russell after seeing Emmanuel on the court should help the Lakers' front office get the best picture possible of where these two guard prospects stand.
What matters more, though, is whether Russell can dazzle in the kind of workout that sways the Lakers from drafting big. Mitch Kupchak has made several pointed nods at selecting either Okafor or Towns, but the team is still working every angle. D'Angelo has an incredible skill-set for an NBA landscape dominated by guards, and some projections even rank him as the top player coming into the league.
Further need of hype for Russell? Chad Ford of ESPN profiled Russell (Insider) and asked who the toughest player he's ever faced was. You might recognize this guy he was competing with:
"Playing with Chris Paul," Russell said. "He's a great dude. Being able to communicate with him on and off the court. Getting the knowledge that he brings. We were competing. He's made me a better player. And he's making me a better person."
It's the "We were competing" line that stood out. Competing with Chris Paul? "Yeah."
That would sound cocky except five other people that saw it in the gym the past week in Thousand Oaks said the same thing. Not better than Chris Paul. But competing.
Russell made his mark early in the college season and quickly overtook Mudiay as the top incoming guard. We've made the case for him as the No. 2 pick, but he'll get a chance to do it for himself in El Segundo. If he leaves the basketball operations team in awe, things could get interesting for the rest of the process. Towns isn't expected to participate in any private workouts, while there's been little word of Okafor's plans.
The Lakers have been great with providing post-workout videos and media, so we'll get a glimpse of it. If you feel like dreaming about pre-draft workouts in the meantime, this story on Kobe Bryant dominating Michael Cooper should do the trick.