The majority of Los Angeles Lakers fans' attention this offseason has been captured by rumors and reports (of varying degrees of credibility) about the team's draft and free agency leanings. Will the Lakers draft Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram? Could LeBron James really be considering the Lakers in free agency? Is Kevin Durant a real option?
All of those are important questions, but the most important factor in determining the success of the Lakers' summer will likely be how much D'Angelo Russell grows as a player following a tumultuous rookie campaign. Following the introductory press conference of his new head coach, Russell sounded like he's ready to accept help on his path to improvement.
"I'm a fan of his. I'm just all ears, whatever he has to offer," Russell told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. Walton just finished a two-year stint as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, and Russell told Trudell he has an eye on one of Walton's former players as a template for the style he wants to play:
Russell has been talking to Luke since he became the coach, and has been peppering him with questions. Asked a lot about how Curry plays.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) June 21, 2016
Russell wanted to know about Curry's preparation, how he gets his shots and opportunities to pass in the offense and so on.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) June 21, 2016
Russell still has a long way to go to reach Curry's heights, but at just 20 years old, he still has a long time to get there (or anywhere close). Curry is also not a perfect comparison for Russell, who is a big bigger than the two-time MVP and revealed on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet that his size is something he hopes to use to his advantage:
Russel is working on being a " bully" on the court. He's going to be so effective down in the low block— Thai Luong (@thailuong33) June 21, 2016
It's not the first time he's talked about leveraging his size this offseason, either, tweeting this while watching Shaun Livingston (another player Walton can give him some insight about) dominate game one of the NBA Finals:
Russell seems to be asking the right questions and learning the right lessons this offseason, and Lakers fans will get their first look at how it's going when Russell takes the court for Las Vegas Summe League, which he confirmed reports that he will take part in during his interview on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet:
D'Angelo Russell plans to play summer league.— Gary Kester (@garykester) June 21, 2016
Russell's development is the major key for the Lakers this summer, and he seems to be focused on doing everything he can to unlock his potential.
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