When the Lakers selected D'Angelo Russell second overall in June’s draft, the intent was for him to eventually be Kobe Bryant‘s successor as the face of the franchise. Those are big shoes to fill, but Russell is exactly the kind of high-scoring, playmaking guard who could excite fans after Bryant walks away, whenever that may be. In their first training camp together, the future Hall of Famer has been struck already by the rookie’s maturity and poise.
From ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes:
Bryant said he’s already been impressed by Russell.
“Great poise, he has a lot of poise out there, he’s very calm under duress,” Bryant said. “Doesn’t really seem fazed by much.”
And Russell has already been impressed by Bryant.
“I got here as early as everybody else,” Russell said. “And [Kobe Bryant] was already here.”
This summer, Russell and Bryant were in the news for a Twitter exchange in which Russell described Tracy McGrady as possibly the greatest player of all time, which fans and media blew up into a shot at his new teammate. It was a silly controversy, but it led to a news cycle’s worth of takes about whether they could get along. That clearly isn’t the case, and Russell couldn’t be in a better position to learn from Bryant and eventually take over the team from him. The Lakers might not win a lot of games this season, but fans have something real to look forward to in the post-Kobe era.