Before the draft I'm just going to take some time to reflect upon Russell, he certainly was one of the most interesting characters to ever wear a Laker uniform for such a short amount of time. Not specifically due to his individual personality, character, or basketball ability, but more-so due to the spotlight, role, and tremendous pressure that he was burdened with.
Considering the position the Lakers were in when he was drafted, it would be no easy task to thrive in such an environment and role. With a coach such as Byron Scott (statistically one of the worst of all time) leading the way and calling the shots your rookie season, as well as making an attempt to find your way and transition into the league during Kobe's retirement tour, the odd's were certainly stacked against him knowing very well the Lakers were headed towards a complete rebuild. Playing for a decorated franchise such as the Lakers whom have been spoiled with the likes of Kobe, Magic, and a handful of prestigious Hall of Fame guards is like stepping foot into a pair of shoes you certainly won't fit in. The expectations of a player selected with the #2 overall pick placed in the bright lights of LA following Kobe's historic tenure only has two possible outcomes. You either thrive and show that you have the ability to make an immediate impact, or you struggle to stay afloat.
Out of the gates, Russell struggled to find consistency both in his game as well as in the lineup. There were flashes and spurts in which he showed that he could potentially be the next big thing, but there were also times in which there was a clear lack of motivation and desire. At the end of the day, he's only 21 years of age and had a lot of learning to do. Unfortunately, this is a very impatient fan-base that was not only fed up with losing, but also fed up with current management and the direction the team had fallen into. To top if all off, immediately once the Nick Young circus escalated, his public portrayal throughout the league and especially in LA would never be the same. If a picture of a fellow teammate working out was posted, but Russell wasn't found in view, questions would arise. If rumors of Russell dating a given model or celebrity were released despite his teammate clearly being tied to that individual, questions would arise. He was placed in a position where if he had done right, it would have been expected of him, but had he done wrong, it would have been painted as an elaborate story questioning his character. He would now be closely monitored, and every action, even something as simple as a change in his hairdo would result in some type of critique or concern that questions his work ethic and motives as a player.
At the end of the day, my only question is why is it that so many fans felt this way? Never before had I come across a young player with such promising basketball abilities be so heavily critiqued and bashed by his own fan base. From a statistical stand-point, he was placing up historic numbers. When compared to other top ranked players in his draft class, he was right there with the best of them. Even in the case of Brandon Ingram, a player in which many fans and even Magic Johnson himself viewed has "untouchable", Russell too blew his rookie numbers out of the water despite averaging less playing time.
Best of luck in Brooklyn DLoading, I can only wish you the best of success and that moving to Brooklyn turns a new page but also lifts a large burden off of your shoulders.
P.S. This one is for all the Russell cult members.
Edited by LakeShow1o1, June 22, 2017 - 02:00 PM.