5 Lakers on Thin Ice Heading Into the NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers have a busy offseason on the horizon after last season's shortcomings. As a result, here are five players who are on thin ice ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft.
Rui Hachimura is one of five Lakers who are on thin ice before the NBA Draft.
Rui Hachimura is one of five Lakers who are on thin ice before the NBA Draft. / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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2. D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG

D'Angelo Russell is one of those players who's always been solid but could have been so much better. The former 2015 second-overall selection has shown flashes of All-Star potential throughout his nine-year career, however, his issues regarding consistency have frustrated his fans.

Much to Lakers fans' dismay, that trend continued into the latest campaign.

After an abysmal postseason showing last spring, Russell looked rejuvenated during the 2023-24 regular season. The ex-Ohio State Buckeye was one of the Lakers' best players, tallying 18.0 PTS/6.3 AST/3.1 REB/0.9 STL while shooting 45.6% from the field and a career-best 41.5% on 7.2 attempts from the three-point line. It finally looked like the real D'Lo had arrived.

But then the playoffs began and it was almost like Tom Hanks' Groundhog Day. Russell was largely invisible in the first-round series against Denver, averaging just 14.2 points, 4.2 assists, and 2.8 rebounds with .384/.318/.500 splits. He was held to 14 or fewer points in three of the five games, including when he finished pointless in Game 3.

Whether Russell accepts his $18.6 million player option or not, I doubt he'll return to the Lakers. Even with Redick at the helm, general manager Rob Pelinka can't afford to risk another postseason disaster with the 28-year-old playmaker. It's clear that Russell just can't come up big when it matters, meaning it's best to either let him walk as a free agent or attempt a sign-and-trade deal.

Either way, Lakers fans have likely seen the last of the inconsistent guard.