With the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League around the corner, teams have begun holding scrimmages with rookies, young players, and other roster-hopefuls.
D’Angelo Russell, the 19-year-old point guard the Los Angeles Lakers took with the No. 2 pick in a mild surprise, is reportedly already turning heads.
Russell entered the draft as one of the most coveted prospects — a long, tall natural shooter and gifted passer whose game figures to translate well to the NBA, where point guards of his mould often thrive.
Russell’s passing in particular is receiving high praise from teammates and coaches.
Head coach Byron Scott said Russell has been wowing teammates with his passing:
Byron Scott on D’Angelo Russell: “He’s made a few passes that have guys saying, ‘How did you make that pass?'”
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) July 9, 2015
Second-year point guard Jordan Clarkson, who will probably compete with Russell for the starting point guard job, told Bill Oram of the OC Register, “He can pass the hell out of the ball. He was able to move the ball well and it makes the game a lot easier for everybody. It’s good running with him.”
Second-year forward Julius Randle said in a post-scrimmage interview that some of Russell’s passes “surprised” him:
“Yeah, they surprised me. Some of the stuff he made, it surprised me. So, that’s gonna be an adjustment, too… I can catch [his passes], you know, just having that point guard that he’s hitting you right on time.”
Fellow rookie Anthony Brown raved about Russell:
“Special talent. His passing ability, I mean, I haven’t seen anything like it in a while. For a 19-year-old, he’s very mature, and he’s got some special abilities.”
In Russell’s lone season at Ohio State, he became something of a viral sensation for some of his passes. He has an ability to see a play develop ahead of time:
Russell is also crafty off the dribble, and if he has players moving, he’ll often make a pass that nobody sees coming:
The Lakers passed up on taking Jahlil Okafor, widely assumed to be the second-best prospect in the draft, to take Russell. Based on the early returns, it sounds like Russell might have been the right choice for the Lakers.
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