Russell is hot.
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 134-110 in the second game of the 2023-2024 NBA regular season at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Sunday night.
The star of the show was neither LeBron James nor Anthony Davis. It was D’Angelo Russell. Russell led the way with 34 points, eight assists, two blocks, and a highly efficient 6 of 11 shooting from three-point range. He even had zero turnovers.
Russell began carving up Portland’s defense early in the game. Using his signature rhythm, Russell scored easily off the dribble and three-pointers, and he had great vision for his teammates as well as himself. With Russell on the floor, the Lakers’ offense ran smoothly.
Encouragingly, Russell’s performance wasn’t limited to this game. In his last five games, Russell has been on a tear, averaging 27.2 points and 6.4 assists per game. He’s doing a great job of filling the third option role behind Davis and James.
The Lakers have been underwhelming at guard all season. Austin Reeves was the only player who was relatively consistent. Even Reeves had his ups and downs. While James and Davis have been consistent throughout the season, it’s the guards that have been the reason for the Lakers’ struggles.
If Russell continues to play like this, the Lakers’ problems will be solved.
Interestingly, Russell has been at the center of recent trade rumors. The Lakers are reportedly actively pursuing players on the trade market. The Lakers are targeting scoring guards like Dejounte Murray and Terry Rozier.
It’s very possible that either Murray or Rosier could be included in a trade for Russell. For the Lakers, Reeves is untradeable and Russell is their only remaining card.
That said, Russell’s performance could be troubling for the Lakers. If Russell had been playing like this all season, the Lakers would be thinking differently, and the Lakers would likely be in much better shape.
On the flip side, Russell’s performance could increase his trade value, making him more attractive to trade partners.
It all depends on what the Lakers brass thinks of a resurgent Russell.