The fifth rendition of the LeBron James vs Stephen Curry rivalry has kicked off. The Warriors are currently favored to win the series, however, the Lakers are more than capable of pulling off another upset in round two. However, there is one player that will have to perform at a very high level for this to happen.
Through their late regular season run and through the playoffs up to this point, there has not been a consistent third-star player on the roster. There has been at least one role player to step up and have a big night in each of the Lakers wins through the postseason, however, it has not been the same player every time.
In this series against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers will need a consistent third option, and if they are unable to find one, it will be an extremely uphill battle to win the series. The player most likely to do this and that would benefit the Lakers the most from having a monster series would be D’Angelo Russell.
Russell was acquired at the trade deadline in a three-team deal that sent Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, and a Los Angeles Lakers 2927 first-round pick to the Utah Jazz, Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a 2024 Los Angeles Lakers second-round pick, a 2025 Utah Jazz second-round pick, and a 2026 Utah Jazz second-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Lakers. This deal sparked an incredible run through the tail end of the regular season that allowed the Lakers to sneak into the playoffs.
Russell had an incredible stretch once becoming a member of the Lakers roster for the second time in his career. He would average 17.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 48.4% from the field and 41.4% from three. In the first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, Russell would once again put together a very solid stat line averaging 16.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 43.5% from the field and 37.2% from three.
The Golden State Warriors have created a dynasty and revolutionized the game of basketball as a result of the once-in-a-lifetime shooting duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Los Angeles is a team who at times has struggled to find their shot from outside, and if that is the case in this series, they are done for. Russell will have to step up and provide a reliable three-point scorer on the offensive side while also likely being tasked to guard either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson on the defensive end.
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