Have you ever driven a car that’s running low on motor oil? If you have you know the all too familiar feeling of your car feeling sluggish. Have you ever driven a car that was in desperate need of a tune up? C’mon now, we’ve all been there. Your car didn’t run as smoothly as it usually did, it didn’t posses that extra gear that you know your car can usually hit. Your car was basically a shell of itself waiting on something to come save it, right? What I just described can also be said about the Los Angeles Lakers offense, scratch that, the whole Lakers team without their Point Guard D’Angelo Russell.
The Lakers started off their 4 game road trip against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night and let me tell you something, it was hard to sit and watch at some points. Even though Russell had sat out the previous 5 games, it took me until tonight to really understand how important Russell had become not only to the Lakers of today but the Lakers franchise 10 years from now. It’s crazy how sometimes you need to be gone for a while before people realize how crucial you really are. Watching the Lakers bring the ball up the court and try to run the offense tonight was pathetic, I’m sorry, I love these young Lakers but they looked like a chicken running around with his head off. Half the time it looked like they were running these plays for the first time in their life, it looked like my girl friend the other night playing zombies.
Now, as much as that sounded like a knock on the rest of the team, it was intended to show how D’Angelo Russell has established himself as the face/future of the Los Angeles Lakers while he wasn’t even on the floor. This team will ultimately go as far as his smooth left hand jumper will take them, he is that special. With that being said Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. shouldn’t be forgotten about because obviously they are amazing young talents with ceilings higher than Wiz Khalifa on 4/20 at 4:20 in the afternoon. Without them Russell can’t enjoy the spread out floor and bail out options when he tries to do too much and uses his natural abilities to get his teammate the ball at the very last second.
Clarkson has developed into more of a SG since he entered the league and he lacks in comparison to Russell when he plays the lead guard role. Calderon doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Russell and Lou Williams is more of a natural scorer instead of the player-maker the Lakers need now more than ever, you can call Russell the glue to the equation. Brandon Ingram is being developed into a Point Forward hybrid who can eventually have the offense run through him but he is still 20 pounds of muscle away from being as dominant as he has the potential to be. After that you are out of options as far as guards go, unless you want Swaggy P running the show. And no one wants to see that in Laker land, or any other land I’m guessing.
Point blank, Russell has gone from a player some people considered a bust after his rookie year (those people need to be mentally evaluated) to a player that the Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports biggest brands, will ultimately sink or swim with. At 20 years old that may seem like a lot to shoulder but if his absence in the last week has taught us anything, it’s that the only thing that can stop D’Angelo Russell from achieving his potential is him not being able to get on the court.