Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell is set to miss one to two weeks with a mild MCL strain. Russell sustained the injury during Friday’s 108-96 win over the Indiana Pacers. News of the extent of Russell’s injury was reported by Bill Oram of The Orange County Register.
D'Angelo Russell MRI confirmed mild MCL sprain, calf strain and bone bruise. Out 1-2 weeks. Not too bad for an 8 p.m. Saturday news dump.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 22, 2017
D’Angelo Russell’s Injury is a Huge Loss for the Lakers
Russell, 20, went down after an awkward collision with teammate Julius Randle. Leaving the game early in the first quarter, Russell would injure both his MCL and right calf. Russell has been a key player for the 16-31 Lakers this season. The second-year guard, is averaging 14.3 points, 4.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds through 34 games.
Why Russell is so Important
Russell is the Lakers starting point guard, and what’s behind him is not good to look at. Lakers fans should expect guards Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas to play in Russell’s absence. Calderon and Huertas are good facilitators, but both have their limitations. The Lakers have the opportunity to start guard Jordan Clarkson in Russell’s place. However, head coach Luke Walton has already proved, that he isn’t exactly prepared to mess with the Lakers prolific bench unit.
It’s likely we see Calderon start against the Dallas Mavericks this Sunday. This is unfortunate, because despite the Spaniards solid play, the Lakers look set to lose a ton of production without Russell on the court.
Trying to Find some Consistency
So far this season, Russell has had ups and downs. Making Lakers fans smile one game and sigh the next, has been a bit of an issue. You can afford to cut Russell some slack, as all of the Lakers young players have suffered the same problem. However, Russell does need to figure out how to be effective on a more regular basis, if the Lakers are to have any chance of making the playoffs. An example of Russell’s inconsistency, was the clear difference between November and December.
The Lakers would win six games in November with Russell on the court. Russell also averaged his season high in points through November. Averaging 16 points per game had the Lakers in early playoff contention. November is still the team’s best month of the season by far. When Russell plays well the Lakers play well, this is not a coincidence. Moving on to December, the Lakers and Russell were about to experience an awful 31 days.
Russell began the month on the injury table, as the month started and ended badly for the team. Russell’s points and assists numbers would drop in December. Russell’s scoring numbers would drop from 16 per game in November, to 12 per game to end 2016. This would lead to Walton benching Russell in some late game situations. Some Lakers fans have grown impatient with Russell. Not all are convinced of the young guards potential.
There have been trade rumors surrounding the Lakers all season, with Russell leading the way. Fans in Los Angeles seem to believe that the team would be better off trading for star. However, to let this promising young core go, this early in their career’s just wouldn’t be sensible. Fans need to give this young core, including Walton more time to prove what they really are. Despite this setback, Russell should play a big part in that future.
LOS ANGELES, USA – APRIL 6: D’Angelo Russell of Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the NBA match between Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, USA on April 6, 2016.
(Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)