Darvin Ham places big expectations on D’Angelo Russell

Darvin Ham is expecting a big season from D’Angelo Russell. The veteran guard returned to the Los Angeles Lakers midway through last season. 

Russell’s performances since his return have been mixed. Sometimes, he looks like an elite guard with All-Star capabilities. While others can be hard to watch. 

Speaking to the media, Ham recently shared his expectations for Russell in the upcoming season.

“I’ve been saying it since the summertime, I feel like he’s gonna have a big, big year,” Ham said. “… He had a tough series against Denver but it doesn’t represent who he is as a basketball player … He has that chip on his shoulder where he wants to help us win and he wants to be there in the mix of it playing good basketball and that’s what the preseason has shown thus far.”

Russell will face competition for a starting spot in the Lakers rotation with the addition of Gabe Vincent, who helped lead the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals last season. 

Rookie guard Jalen Hood-Schifino will also be fighting for minutes. On paper, Russell should be the most talented guard on the team. 

However, the former second-overall pick needs to prove he can consistently produce. The Lakers are entering the new season with dreams of winning a championship. Russell’s scoring and playmaking will be integral to making that goal a reality. 

Playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis will make things easier for Russell. His shots will come within the flow of the offense. Opposing defenses will be focused on his All-Star teammates. 

Los Angeles’ deep roster will provide Russell with countless kick-out opportunities on drives. Everything is set up for the veteran guard to succeed.

Still, Ham’s comments could add some unnecessary pressure onto the Kentucky native’s shoulders. Russell will enter the season knowing he’s expected to produce at a high level. Those expectations come with playing for the Lakers, though. 

The media light shines brightly in Tinseltown. Russell has proven himself to be a high-level guard during his various stops around the league. 

As he becomes more accustomed to the pressure cooker of Los Angeles, he should begin to thrive. If he can figure things out early, the Lakers will be a tough prospect throughout the season.

Part of that is on Ham. He needs to motivate and nurture Russell. After all, confidence is 80% of the battle. 

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