D’Angelo Russell: ‘It Wasn’t the Best Rookie Year’

17 wins, a ridiculous social media-fueled scandal, and a never-ending battle with his head coach: D’Angelo Russell, you could say, had a rough first year in the League.

Russell is ready to put all of that behind him, and says he learned a lot during his rookie campaign.

The 20-year-old feels empowered by Luke Walton to run the Los Angeles Lakers’ offense in 2016-17.

Per Fox Sports:

I’m curious — what was the first conversation you and Luke Walton had the moment you met after he was hired as head coach?


D’ANGELO RUSSELL: “When I first met Luke, the vibe was like: ‘I know this guy.’ There were no awkward silences. No stares into space. We cooked so well. When we started practicing and getting out on the court, he played with us, and I’m like: ‘I’m not used to this’ because last year was my rookie year and that’s all I knew.”


So, your rookie year…


DAR: “If it was bad … or whatever it was … It was bad. It wasn’t the best rookie year. But, I had some big learning experience from it and coming into this year — I’m beyond excited.”


Is there a specific part of your game that he [Luke Walton] wants you to focus on before the season starts?


DAR: “He wants me to shoot the ball when I’m open. When a coach tells you to shoot the ball, it’s like a green light for you. You can’t want that more than anything. But the catch is you got to be good enough to know that when you’re not open, you gotta pass. That’s the responsibility he’s thrown at me and everybody.”