Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell has been selected No. 2 by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2015 NBA draft.
Russell was one of the breakout stars of the college basketball season after averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game as a freshman for the Buckeyes. Playing 33.9 minutes per game, he shot 44.9% from the field and 41.1% from three.
A five-star recruit and McDonald's All-American coming out of high school, Russell was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-America in his lone year in college. He scored 28 points in Ohio State's NCAA tournament win over VCU and failed to reach double figures in only two games all season.
Mannix's analysis: And… chaos. The Lakers have been going back and forth for weeks on Russell and 7-foot center Jahlil Okafor. Russell is the best point guard prospect in the draft and the best freshman playmaking prospect in generations. He’s a bonafide floor leader with preternatural passing ability. Russell thrived in the pick-and-roll at Ohio State and there is no reason to believe he won’t do the same in the NBA. A lack of superior athleticism is maybe his only weakness, but for many execs, it’s not that concerning.
Strengths: Russell displayed tremendous poise at point guard, despite not having played the position in high school. He has tremendous court vision and perhaps has the best touch on his passes of any prospect in this draft. Some of his turnovers last year, in fact, were due to his teammates’ inability to wield his surprise assists. He has a filthy crossover and handles the ball against top-flight defenders with ease. His 6’9” wingspan makes him an asset defensively, and his court awareness makes him an underrated pickpocket defensively. Developmentally, he is way ahead of the curve for players his age yet still has tremendous upside. He can shoot from midrange, beyond the three-point line and finish at the rim on drives.
Weaknesses: He didn’t play point guard for the full year at Ohio State; instead, he slowly took more minutes from Shannon Scott in a hybrid role. He still needs to prove he can be a full-time point guard, but he is too valuable to play exclusively off the ball. He is not an explosive athlete, instead relying on his vision and basketball IQ to get a step on his defenders. On defense, he needs to play with more consistent intensity.