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Monday, May 21, 2018

Lakers want to try playing D’Angelo Russell off the ball for remainder of season

The Los Angeles Lakers are fully committed to player development over the final dozen games of the regular season, and experimenting with D’Angelo Russell’s role appears to be next in store.

After Russell dropped a career-high 40 points in Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he wants to try playing the former No. 2 overall pick off the ball more for the rest of the year and expressed his belief that Russell can succeed in that capacity, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The 21-year-old Russell, who is averaging 15.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in his sophomore season in 2016-17, has played roughly 90 percent of his career minutes thus far at the point guard position (per Basketball Reference), and one of his primary strengths is creating out of halfcourt pick-and-roll sets. But as Walton alluded to, Russell has fairly strong numbers in the limited time he has played off the ball, ranking in the 72nd percentile leaguewide this season in spot-up shooting opportunities and in the 69th percentile in opportunities off cuts (per NBA.com).

New Lakers president Magic Johnson has hinted he wants Russell to take on a bigger role for the team, and developing his game off the ball could be one of the better ways to do that with the Lakers likely to have a shot at an elite point guard of the Markelle Fultz or the Lonzo Ball mold in next June’s draft.

H/T Rotoworld

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