Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves revealed who he believes could be a breakout player for the team this season.
The Lakers brought in a bunch of new talent in the offseason, and they re-signed Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura to complement players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the rotation.
It was Russell who got the nod from Reaves as a potential breakout player.
“That’s such a tough question ’cause we have so many guys,” Reaves began. “… I feel like for me, it’s gonna be D-Lo ’cause I feel like just — a lot of people would say that he wasn’t very consistent, end of the year. But I feel like him having just this whole time, the training camp, preseason, all of that to kind of get actually established — last year, all those guys that were traded in were basically kind of just thrown out there and was just like, ‘We’re gonna win off talent.’ But I think having him around and him being able to get used to playing with Bron and A.D. a little more is just gonna benefit him. Obviously, had a really good year last year, but I think this year coming’s gonna be one of those ones that it’s like, ‘Okay, definitely — we definitely got a bargain with him.'”
Russell came to the Lakers at the trade deadline last season in the three-team deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz.
A former Lakers draft pick (No. 2 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft), Russell played a big role for the Lakers down the stretch of the 2022-23 season, helping them earn the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.
During the 2022-23 season, Russell averaged 17.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from beyond the arc, playing for the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Unfortunately, his play didn’t stay at that level in the postseason. Reaves mentioned the fact that Russell was considered inconsistent, and it really showed in the later stages of the playoffs.
The biggest struggles for Russell came during the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets. Russell averaged just 6.3 points per game in that series, and the Lakers were swept and knocked out of the playoffs.
It was also a major dip from his stats against the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, when he averaged 14.7 points per game.
Despite that, Reaves clearly believes in his teammate to prove anyone wrong who thinks he can’t return to playing at a high level.
A one-time All-Star, Russell signed a two-year deal with the Lakers (the second season being a player option) this offseason.
If he can take his game to another level like Reaves expects, Russell and the Lakers should be in the conversation for a top spot in the Western Conference.
For his career, Russell averages 17.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game while shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from beyond the arc.