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Lakers News: Luke Walton credits the D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle’s increased professionalism for their improved play

Los Angeles’ two former lottery picks are developing the necessary work ethic to push each other towards success.

NBA: Preseason-Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Childish. Babyish. Infantile. Juvenile. Adolescent. Puerile. Sophomoric.

All of the preceding words are synonyms for immature, in addition to being descriptors used by some to describe the Los Angeles Lakers young core over the past calendar year (especially last season).

Well don’t look now, but the Lakers are on a two-game winning streak after pulling win out of their hat against the Orlando Magic, and the team has quietly won three out of their last five games to halt their sink into the depths of the lottery.

A huge part of the Lakers’ recent resurgence has been the play of former lottery picks D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. Those two have led the team in scoring over the past five games, with Russell averaging 20.8 points per game and Randle chipping in 17 over that stretch. Randle has added an additional 9.4 rebounds and six assists, while Russell has averaged 5.2 and 5 in those categories, respectively.

After the Lakers’ win over the Magic, Luke Walton credited both players’ improved professionalism for their uptick in play over recent games.

Russell agreed with his coach’s assessment:

The young point guard also told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register that he and Randle have been pushing each other to stick with their routines:

“I try to stay on top of Julius as much as possible. He lets me know when I’m slacking,” Russell said. “I let him know. It causes us some confusion and butting heads. But we know what it is at the end of the day. It’s helping us both. It’s just growing up and keeping it real with each other.”

Russell and Randle keeping it real has resulted in even more tangible results for the Lakers. This is psychoanalyzing a bit, but it’s hard not to look at all of Randle’s talk of how recently becoming a father has given him perspective as part of the impetus for this change. For Russell’s part, he went through just about as tough of a trial by fire as any rookie in history last season and seems to be finally taking all of those lessons learned to heart.

The biggest hurdle for young players to clear is developing the right habits and work ethic to remain in the NBA. The cliche about everyone in the league having tons of talent is an accurate one, and even those with as promising of raw tools as Randle and Russell still have to put in the time to mold themselves into real weapons.

This recent stretch offers hopes those two have turned the corner in that regard, and it’s left Russell well on track to fulfill his goals:

When that day comes isn’t certain, but we at least seem to be nearing that and leaving our thesaurus bookmarks for alternatives to the word “immature” behind.

All stats per and Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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