Despite his early season struggles, the Lakers say they have no regrets about selecting point guard D’Angelo Russell with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft over center Jahlil Okafor or big man Kristaps Porzingis, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. When asked if he was satisfied with his rookie first-rounder, GM Mitch Kupchak told Medina, “Absolutely. We’re very happy. He’s going to be a really good player.” Lakers assistant coach Larry Lewis also agrees with Kupchak’s assessment of Russell, Medina adds. “He’s ahead of all the guys in his class with his work ethic, the passes he makes and the way he thinks through the game,” Lewis said. “Like any rookie and young athlete, he’s going to make some mistakes. But he’s making mistakes that are teaching him different things to recognize.”
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Despite the Kings‘ struggles this season, coach George Karl is pleased with the makeup of the team’s locker room as compared to last season, James Ham of CSNBayArea.com relays (on Twitter). “This locker room is a hell of a lot better than it was last year,” Karl said. “This locker room has some leaders and pros.”
- It’s time for the Suns to hit the reset button and begin a full roster rebuild, Andrew Joseph of The Arizona Republic opines. Joseph points to the 2013/14 season, when Phoenix unexpectedly won 48 games, as when things began to go bad for the franchise, and cautions that management needs to stick to its plan regardless of any short-term success the team may encounter. The Arizona Republic scribe also notes that the offseason signing of Tyson Chandler is looking like a bust, with the big man easily having the worst season of his career.
- Lakers rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. is confident that he can evolve into a stretch-four and become more than just a player known for his dunking ability, Medina writes in a separate piece. “Yeah, it’ll happen,” Nance Jr. told Medina. “I’m a rookie and I got lots of years to perfect my craft and work on my game. I’m getting very comfortable shooting the 15- and 18-footer. I’ve got multiple years and multiple summers to be able to work that out to the 3-point line. I’m very confident.”