Lakers’ Austin Reaves, Taurean Prince Offer Lofty Praise for D’Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers got a better idea of what they will look like when the regular season starts with LeBron James making his preseason debut versus the Brooklyn Nets.

But it was D’Angelo Russell who drew some lofty praise from Austin Reaves postgame.

“His skill’s unmatched. He can play. Everybody knows that,” Reaves said via Spectrum Sportsnet on October 9. “He’s been super confident, as always, and he’s looked really good the first couple games. And I kindly remind him all the time that there’s probably not anybody that can guard him.”

Russell finished the 129-126 win over the Nets with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting, connecting on 4-of-5 threes and adding six assists, two steals, and one rebound. He had a 15/5/1/1/1 line on .600/.667/1.000 efficiency versus the Golden State Warriors in the preseason opener.

He ended the postseason on a downward trend, seeing fewer than 15 minutes versus the Denver Nuggets in the decisive Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

Head coach Darvin Ham downplayed that on media day, though.

Still, Reaves thinks having a more settled situation is playing a significant role.

“Just having that preseason – having these games, training camp, all that – was gonna benefit him in a lot of ways,” Reaves continued. “Just having that mindset of knowing what’s gonna happen every possession, being able to control that. I’ve said that I feel like that will benefit him a lot.”

Russell re-signed on a two-year, $36 million contract in free agency after the Lakers re-acquired him at the trade deadline in February.

Reaves finished his preseason debut with 18 points, shooting 5-for-7 from the floor and 4-of-6 from deep. He also had two assists and two rebounds and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line, continuing to show his strong ability to draw fouls.

He was not the only one to speak highly of Russell, either.

Taurean Prince: D’Angelo Russel’s Passing is ‘Elite’

“His ability to pass is very elite, but I feel like it’s only at its highest level when he’s being aggressive offensively,” Taurean Prince said on Spectrum Sportsnet on October 10. And that’s just in general. Not to necessarily score. Just being aggressive and using the gifts he was given. I think it all comes together once he’s aggressive offensively, the floor really opens up for him.”

Prince and Russell were teammates on the Minnesota Timberwolves for the last two seasons before the latter was traded to L.A. last season.

The seven-year veteran, Prince, finished the win over Brooklyn with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting with one assist and one rebound, doing nothing to dissuade the notion that he could vie for the final starting spot alongside James, Reaves, Russell, and Anthony Davis.

Los Angeles signed Prince to a one-year, $4.5 million pact in free agency.

D’Angelo Russell’s Contract Could Keep Him in Trade Rumors

The Lakers are always a team mentioned in connection to disgruntled stars seeking trades from their current situations. Russell’s contract is viewed as easily tradeable, an idea reinforced by his waiving his implied no-trade clause when he re-signed this summer.

Regardless of whether or not the Lakers would be looking to upgrade their roster or divest and trade players for draft assets, Russell’s name figures to be a constant.

How he handles that could determine if he does last in L.A. this time as much as anything.