D'Angelo Russell has proven he's better for the Lakers than Damian Lillard

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks
Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers did not let a bad showing in the Western Conference Finals last year deter the team from bringing D'Angelo Russell back in the offseason. Granted, it seemed like the Lakers were simply re-signing Russell to float him out in trades at the deadline, and that is exactly what happened.

Russell wasn't traded, however, and he actually improved his level of play as a result. The polarizing point guard has undoubtedly been the third-best player on the Lakers this season and is arguably the most important player if the team is going to reach its ceiling this year.

There is no doubt that Russell has raised his value and he will opt out of his contract this offseason. Thankfully for the Lakers, the point guard has said that he would prefer to stay in Los Angeles. It might not seem wise to give Russell a bigger deal but quite frankly, he has proven that is is worth the money.

In fact, Russell might just be the best-valued contract in the league right now. When compared to a max guy like Damian Lillard, it is clear to see that the Lakers may have struck accidental gold with their starting point guard.

D'Angelo Russell has proven he's better for the Lakers than Damian Lillard

In a vacuum, Damian Lillard is obviously the more impactful player. His offensive ceiling is higher than that of Russell's and there is a reason why he was signed to a max contract in the first place.

That being said, Lillard has not been that consistent offensively and Russell has simply been more efficient. Lillard's field goal percentage has gone up where it is now 1% higher than Russell's three-point percentage, but it is still jarring the difference between the two guards.

Russell has an effective field goal percentage of .566 while Lillard checks in at .513. Not only is that a huge difference but Russell's .566 eFG% would be the best eFG% of Lillard's entire career. It is not even the best eFG% of Russell's career.

Both players are offensive-minded point guards who struggle on the defensive end and you can make the case that Russell has been less of a nuisance on defense than Lillard. After all, Russell's -0.8 defensive box plus/minus is better than Lillard's -1.2 DBPM.

Can Russell carry a team single-handedly as often as Lillard can? No. But he is literally giving the Lakers 90% of Lillard's offense with more efficiency and better defense. Best of all, he is doing this while being a third of the price of Lillard for the Lakers.

Maybe the Milwaukee Bucks would have been better off just keeping Jrue Holiday and signing D'Angelo Russell to a deal. At least the Lakers didn't have the assets to send a grandfather offer to Portland for Lillard.

LA has been on fire lately as it's won seven of its past eight and you'll win big if you can correctly predict just one more win this week at FanDuel! All you have to do is sign up, deposit $10 or more and then bet $5 or more on LA to win any game. If the Lakers win, you'll get $200 in bonus bets! Click this link to sign up for FanDuel today!