D'Angelo Russell: "My inspiration is Derrick White. I wanna be Derrick White. He doesn't get a lot of credit for what he does, makes a lot of winning plays. That's who I wanna be."
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) October 16, 2023
Recently, White reacted to Russell saying that he wants to play like him on defense.
“I woke up to it and I was shocked, really,” White told The Athletic. “Obviously D-Lo’s an All-Star, has done a lot of great things in this league, a highly talented player. So it’s cool to get recognized like that, especially by a guy who’s done so much in the league like he has.”
White then went on to explain his mentality while playing.
“I think it’s just competing, being in the right place,” White said. “Whether it shows up on the stat sheet or not, just doing the things that your team needs to do. And that’s just what I’m trying to do is whatever I can do to help this team win, whether that means scoring 20 points or getting two shots. Whatever it is to help us win, I’m willing to do that. So I think that’s what (Russell) was trying to say.”
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 12.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc across 82 appearances with the Celtics during the 2022-23 regular season.
Plus, White blocked shots at a very high level for a guard. He finished with 76 blocks during the regular season, the most blocks of any player at his position by a wide margin, as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with the second-most blocks at 65.
White continued to be a star in his role during Boston’s 2023 playoff run. He was arguably the Celtics’ third-best player in the playoffs, behind only Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The 29-year-old’s best playoff series came during the first round against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. White averaged 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game for the series, as Boston beat Atlanta in six games.
But White’s most iconic moment of the Celtics’ playoff run occurred late in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. He scored a layup to beat the buzzer and force a Game 7, though the Celtics went on to lose that game 103-84.
OH MY GOODNESS DERRICK WHITE WINS!!! pic.twitter.com/ZWiB1Xfjap
— Ahn Fire Digital (@AhnFireDigital) May 28, 2023
Lakers fans shouldn’t expect Russell to be the same caliber of defender as White is this season, as the latter is one of the best defenders in the game at his position. But if Russell can be even 50 percent of the defensive presence that White is, that would be a major win for the Lakers.