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D’Angelo Russell talks Lakers depth, need for right mentality next season

With a deep roster for next season, D’Angelo Russell recently spoke about the need for the Lakers to have the right mentality coming into games.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

In choosing to basically run it back this offseason, the Lakers maintained their depth that helped them absorb a critical LeBron James injury at the end of the regular season last year and still go on a run to make the playoffs. Depth has not been a quality ascribed to the Lakers in recent years but appears to be the path they’ll be taking into this upcoming season.

Depth alone does not win titles nor make a team competitive. Knowing how to use that depth and having the right mentality about it are both important as well. If players aren’t willing to take lesser roles, the depth doesn’t mean much.

D’Angelo Russell spoke about that dynamic in an appearance on Patrick Beverley’s podcast earlier this summer.

“We’ve got a lot of bodies. So, trying to give the team what it needs every night to win, I think that’s got to be our focus. However it gets done, if everybody’s locked in to giving the team what it needs that night. That night might be scoring, the next night might be eight assists, the next night all pass-passes because they ran you off and you made the one more to Austin Reaves in the corner and he’s hitting. It’s got to be a right play, right mentality type of energy for our group because anybody can do it. You could throw any five out there and get it done. But if we’re all committed to that, the sky’s the limit for our group, honestly.”

For all the faults of D’Lo during his time in LA — and pretty much all of those are focused on his postseason performance — he has brought a great energy and mindset to the team that showed in the regular season. In the same interview with Pat Bev, D’Lo talked about how he, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt shifted the mentality of the team and roster when he came in.

And it’s a fair point! Perhaps it was addition by subtraction and had as much or more to do with who left than who came in. But D’Lo played some role in revitalizing this roster.

His willingness to practice what he preached and do what is needed to win games is the type of mindset this team will need to have moving into next season. The Lakers had that last year and it was pivotal in their late-season run.

Now, if they want to replicate that, they’ll have to do it all over again and for a whole season. If they can, they could quickly become one of the best teams in the conference and league. If not, it could get messy like last season once again.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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