Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell Has Stepped Up In 2024

D'Angelo Russell, Lakers, NBA
Feb 14, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell (1) tries to dribble past Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) during the first quarter at Delta Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of rumors were swirling around the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline about moves the team could look to make. They had been linked to Dejounte Murray, Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan, among others, as the team looked like it needed a shake-up.

The one player who was involved in many of those rumors was guard D’Angelo Russell. Every season with the Lakers there is seemingly one player who emerges as a scapegoat for the team’s struggles. Last season it was Russell Westbrook; this season, it has been Russell at times.

With head coach Darvin Ham shuffling his lineups and rotations, it was hard for players to find a rhythm at points during the season. Now that he has settled in on a combination that he likes, the team has found success more consistently, and Russell has been a big part of that.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: D’Angelo Russell & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

NBA trade rumors affect players differently. Some will crumble under the pressure, not knowing if they will have to pack up their lives and be on the move. Others will use it as motivation and take their performance to another level, wanting to prove they shouldn’t be traded.

Russell did the latter. Lakers fans should be happy that Russell wasn’t traded as he has stepped up in 2024 as the No. 3 option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He is providing the team with the kind of consistent production they have sometimes lacked behind their star duo, which has helped the team get on track.

Over his last 16 games, Russell has been stellar. He is playing 36.7 minutes per game as Ham has full confidence that he is going to get the job done night in and night out. To his credit, Russell has been proving Ham corrected.

He is averaging 23.4 points per game with excellent efficiency. Russell has a true shooting percentage of 61.4, buoyed by the 46 percent he is shooting on 3-pointers while attempting 8.7 per game.

Not only is Russell scoring efficiently, but he is also running the Lakers’ offense like a well-oiled machine. He is averaging 7.0 assists per game, taking some of the playmaking onus off of James’ plate and making life easier for him.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: D’Angelo Russell & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

Most importantly, the team is winning games. During this stretch that Russell has been playing so well, the Lakers are 11-5. That has helped them push their record to 30-26 as they look to climb the Western Conference standings and get out of the NBA Play-In Tournament.

With Russell playing at such a high level, the Lakers are a dangerous team. He is providing the team with consistent third-star production, as there aren’t many players in the NBA averaging more than 23 points and seven assists per game.

Given the attention James and Davis draw, they need their teammates to step up and make the most of the opportunities they are being given. Russell has answered the call and helped the team turn things around after a rough patch.

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