D’Angelo Russell’s first stint with the Los Angeles Lakers did not go so well. After being drafted with the 2nd pick in the 2015 NBA draft, it took some time to really come into his own throughout the course of his rookie season.
In addition to the growing pains he endured on the court, he struggled with adapting to his fame off the court at such a young age. While he certainly displayed glimpses of superstar potential at times, there just was not the type of leap the organization was hoping for in terms of year 1 to year 2.
In late June of 2017, Magic Johnson and the front office decided to attach D’Lo to the albatross Timofey Mozgov contract in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Kyle Kuzma). This trade was somewhat shocking, but the Lakers had their sights set on Lonzo Ball in that upcoming draft.
After being traded to Brooklyn, it was not really until his second full campaign with the Nets (2018-2019) that he really started to take off. During that season, he was selected to the only All-Star appearance to this point in his career and the Nets reached the postseason. He was then subsequently shipped to Golden State the following offseason in exchange for Kevin Durant, before being shipped to Minnesota that ensuing season in exchange for Andrew Wiggins.
Through this point in his career, he has put up averages of just under 18 points and 6 assists while shooting over 36% from long range. As a starting point guard, those numbers are admirable. And at 27 years old, he still has plenty of time to grow as he begins to enter the prime phase of his career.
So what caliber player is Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell currently? Is he a star? Is he a role player?
Heading into free agency this offseason, it appears that both he and the Lakers are interested in a new contract. So if he is indeed the franchise’s point guard of the future, then how does the team stack up against other teams in the starting point guard department?
When measured by PER, he is currently the 19th-best point guard in the NBA. While that may seem a tad low, we must recall that the point guard position has become arguably the deepest across the league in recent memory. When looking at the top measures in PER, here are the top 20 point guards in the NBA:
- Luka Doncic
- Shai Gilgeous Alexander
- Damian Lillard
- Steph Curry
- Ja Morant
- Tyrese Haliburton
- Kyrie Irving
- Trae Young
- De’Aaron Fox
- Jalen Brunson
- Darius Garland
- Jrue Holiday
- Malcolm Brogdon
- LaMelo Ball
- Jamal Murray
- Chris Paul
- Markelle Fultz
- Tyrese Maxey
- D’Angelo Russell
- Spencer Dinwiddie
Chris Paul and Jamal Murray seem like a fair tier to throw D’Angelo into at this stage of his career. That is not to say that you are necessarily choosing D’Lo over either of them in a 2K fantasy draft, but it is to say that you at least ponder it. It also translates to Russell being around the same price tag as those two, with CP3 ringing in at $30.8 million next season and Murray slightly higher than him at $33.8 million.
The NBA has a ton of talent at the point guard position. D’Angelo Russell may not be the top point guard in the league, but he has grown up significantly since his first stop in LA. Time will tell if Pelinka and the front office have seen enough mental maturation to validate the type of contract D’Lo and his agent are seeking.