Los Angeles Lakers starting point guard D’Angelo Russell has been re-evaluated, but has still not been cleared to play, though enough progress has been made to ramp up his activity, according to Bill Oram of the OC Register. Russell has missed the Lakers’ last eight games after receiving platelet rich plasma therapy for his ailing right knee, and was initially declared as likely to be out for 2-3 weeks.
Russell’s return, whenever it comes, will be boon for the limping Lakers. The sophomore guard is averaging 16.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game this season, and those counting stats understate his impact.
The Lakers starting lineup has been mostly lost since Russell went down. The on-off metrics were somewhat nuked by two blowouts at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, but the Lakers are scoring 109.4 points per possession during Russell’s minutes, the second-best mark on the team behind Ivica Zubac (so Russell is first among players to play more than 27 minutes this season).
Teams have also only outscored the Lakers by three points per 100 possessions with Russell on the floor, the best mark of any of the Lakers’ regular starters. For comparison, the Lakers have been outscored by 28 points per 100 possessions while Jose Calderon (the man starting in Russell’s place) plays.
Regardless of the numbers, the Lakers will surely be glad to have their hoped-for franchise point guard back in the lineup. After all, Russell will need to continue developing if he wants to fulfill his goal of leading the team to the playoffs this year and the NBA Finals in 2018.
Lakers coach Luke Walton would not put a definitive timetable on Russell’s return, but mentioned that not even Friday’s game would be all that likely. The team will also be without Tarik Black in Houston, and Larry Nance, Jr., is considered questionable.