Lakers: Advanced Stats Spell Breakout Year for D’Angelo Russell


According to the advanced stats, D’Angelo Russell should be in store for a breakout year in his sophomore season with the Lakers

Despite a shaky start to last season, Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell proved to be a good choice as the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft. He ended the year averaging 13.2 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds (, enough to earn him an All-NBA Rookie Second Team nod.

Statistically, Russell performed quite well compared to other rookies. Among first-year players, he was second in steals, third in assists, and first in both three-pointers made and attempted. Something that won’t show up on a stat sheet is all the oohs and ahhs Russell provided to the fanbase during the season.

But with a new coach in Luke Walton and likely an overhauled roster being in store for the Lakers next season, Russell’s role and how much success he’ll have in a new situation are currently somewhat of a mystery. In order to solve it, we need to take a look inside his advanced stats to see just how he can take a big leap in the 2016-17 season under an offense that will be more free-flowing and up-tempo under Walton.

One thing the Lakers did not do well last year was run their offense in the sense of moving the ball and simply moving around to try and create separation. There was a lot of stagnation and, under Walton, LA is sure to play faster with quicker motion in the offense that should create opportunities earlier in the shot clock.

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That type of potential execution will bode will for Russell, who shot his best percentage last season (51 percent) with 18-22 seconds left on the shot clock, per His effective field goal percentage in those situations is even higher at 60.1 percent.

If the Lakers get out in transition more and target Russell, that would put him in good position to make shots based on how he performed very early in the shot clock last season.

Moving outside of his scoring, though, you also have to look at the 20-year-old in regards to his playmaking and facilitating. While Russell only averaged 3.3 assists per game last season, his assist percentage, which measures how many teammates make shots off of a player’s pass, was among the top-10 for rookies last season at 21.3 percent.

In other words, 21.3 percent of Russell’s teammates’ shots were assisted by him. That’s a pretty high number already, and it’s sure to go up next season when ball movement will be more prevalent in the offense.

When looking at Russell’s scoring last year, it’s easy to look at 13.2 points per game average and scoff. But that doesn’t take into account games he didn’t play many minutes and did not get very many shots.

Looking instead at his per-100-possessions average, it becomes clear that Russell can actually score the ball quite effectively. Last season, he averaged 23.4 points, 5.9 assists and 2.1 steals per 100 possessions, according to Basketball Reference. Those are some gaudy numbers that shed light on the offensive impact can and should have next season with the Lakers.

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Nothing is certain when major changes come into play like they will with the Lakers next year. But looking at what Walton is likely to do and what Russell showed as a rookie in terms of advanced stats, the young guard could take a huge step forward.