As August slowly goes by, NBA fans grow more and more anxious for the start of the preseason. Laker fans are especially anxious to see how Head Coach Luke Walton’s offense will affect the young core of players, and more specifically, how it will improve them. The new offense, along with the hard work of the summer should cause stat jumps for every one of the Lakers young core. This stats below are my prediction for D’Angelo Russell next year.
Those that follow me on twitter will know I am harder on D’Angelo than most. I believe his limited athleticism will limit him from being a superstar,but his shooting, vision, and handles will allow him to become an all-star multiple times. (About 2-4). However I want to talk about next season. D’Angelo is a very good three-point shooter for his age. Not only did he make 1.6 three-pointers per game, leading all rookies, but he did it at a 35.1% rate. This is even more impressive when you consider he shoot nearly 39% from three after the all-star break. With Walton’s ball movement and three-point shooting heavy offense, Russell should get more open looks from 3 this year than last. If D’Angelo can hit 40% from 3 this year, an optimistic but not unreasonable target, he should average a few more points, especially when one considers his newly added post game.
Walton’s pace oriented offense, along with the improvements of Jordan Clarkson and adding Luol Deng and Brandon Ingram should lead to a huge jump in Russell’s assist per game. Remember, when he was drafted, the most talked about trait for D’Angelo was his vision. In fact the Laker’s legendary scout Bill Bertka exclaimed “His court vision and ability to push the ball and find the open man really jumped out. Shades of Magic”. While flashes of this vision showed last season, Byron Scott’s Neanderthal like offense and Russell’s rookie mistakes covered it up. But then again he did things like this
Russell’s rebounding will go up as the Lakers should play at a higher pace (more shots from both teams), he has been living in the weight room, and is more experienced. It’s as simple as that
D’Angelo Russell should enter next season as a MIP candidate, as he should see an uptick in his stats across the board. However due to a number teammates needing their fair share of shots (Clarkson, Deng, Randle, Ingram) he will not be the favorite. My final prediction for Russell is
16 ppg 5 rpg 5 apg on 44-40-80
This stat line is along the lines of his Per 36 last year, just more efficient and with higher assist and rebounds. The main factor for Russell will be the new offense, and the higher pace and lack of Kobe isos will surely help. Get excited Laker fans. We are about to have the most electric season by a purple and gold point guard since Nick Van Exel