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Tag: D’Angelo Russell

Clippers Sail into Third, Hawks Rise Eight Spots (Power Rankings: April 12, 2017 Edition)

Seemingly recovered from injury, Chris Paul is playing at a high level as he chases his first championship ring (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).

We’ve reached the final day in a historic NBA season packed with nearly unprecedented statistical seasons by some players, monstrous single-game outbursts by others and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for almost all of the teams in the league. On Wednesday’s final 14-game slate, six playoff seeds are still yet to be determined: 1, 2, 7 and 8 in the East and 4 and 5 in the West. Thirteen teams have already been eliminated from further contention, and the rest hope that their fortunes will be on the rise. This will be the final edition of our power rankings this season, but as a reminder, you can chart how every team has fared in our rankings over the course of the season with the interactive graph atop the Power Rankings landing page.

Biggest Jumps: Atlanta Hawks (+8), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6), Los Angeles Lakers (+6)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-7), Denver Nuggets (-6), Dallas Mavericks (-5) Continue reading

Darius Soriano: “Onus Is on Lakers’ Player Development Folks” to Maximize Potential

Darius Soriano has high hopes for Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram (pictured), who figures to see his role increase as Luke Walton focuses on his team’s young core (Zach Frailey/Flickr).

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The Los Angeles Lakers have a new president of basketball operations and general manager, as first-year head coach Luke Walton leads a youthful squad headlined by lottery picks from the past three drafts, Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. At this critical juncture for the team, Forum Blue & Gold Editor-in-Chief Darius Soriano stops by to break down the biggest storylines for LA’s present and future.

2:44-3:43: Sadly, the biggest Lakers-related news this season happened off the court with last week’s management shakeup:

“The writing was sort of on the wall once Magic [Johnson] was hired as an adviser to Jeanie Buss…The timing of it, though, was awkward and just the way it was handled, I thought, was rough for everyone involved…I’m sort of intrigued by the [Rob] Pelinka aspect, and I think the Magic Johnson thing – I don’t want to say ‘cautiously optimistic.’ I’m more along the lines of ‘I’m just sort of hanging back and waiting to see how things go.’ Magic’s very well respected in the business world, and obviously he was an amazing player. We’ll see how all of that translates that to a final decision-maker on the basketball side [for the Lakers].”

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Hawks Grounded, While Giannis and the Bucks Soar (Power Rankings: Dec. 9, 2016 Edition)

The Hawks earned a 13-spot demotion by struggling mightily after storming out of the gates with a 9-2 start (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Due to stellar play from the Rockets, Jazz, Thunder and Celtics, the red-hot Grizzlies actually dropped a couple slots. The panel was indeed impressed by Memphis’ ability to win five of its last six games without Mike Conley Jr. on the court; it’s just those other teams were deemed to be even better. On the other side of the coin, the Hawks have been dreadful for nearly three weeks now and are paying for it by falling precipitously in this edition. Their 13-place drop on our list may be awfully difficult for teams to “beat” in future rankings.

Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+8), Orlando Magic (+7), Oklahoma City Thunder (+6)

Biggest Drops: Atlanta Hawks (-13), Chicago Bulls (-10), Denver Nuggets (-9), New Orleans Pelicans (-7), Los Angeles Lakers (-7)

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Kobe and Garnett: Passing the Torch to Russell, Towns in Different Ways

Kevin Garnett's veteran leadership has helped the Timberwolves to a surprising start this season. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)

Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves are off to a surprising start this season. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)

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On the heels of the Lakers-focused interview with Rey Moralde, the guys delve further into how Los Angeles can best develop its highly touted young players and how important it will be for the Lakers to re-sign Jordan Clarkson. In the final segment, the A-A-Ron Block, the Minnesota Timberwolves are used as a prime example of a team that has fairly seamlessly integrated young talent, an area where Byron Scott has struggled thus far. Aging veterans, such as Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince, have taken on a diminished but important role both on the off the court, whereas Kobe Bryant’s shot-happy ways appear to be stunting the growth of promising players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. In recent games, Scott has started to give Russell more freedom to make mistakes and grow…and your hosts certainly hope that continues.

Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod

Rey Moralde: Kobe Will “Retire Firing” in a “Chuckers’ Heaven”

Rey Moralde (bottom left) interviewing Lakers' rookie DeAngelo Russell

Rey Moralde (bottom left) interviewing Lakers rookie DeAngelo Russell (Credit: Lakers.com)

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This season’s Los Angeles Lakers are being talked about for mostly unfortunate reasons. One of the best players of all time, Kobe Bean Bryant, will retire upon season’s end and is undoubtedly playing the worst individual basketball of his career. The team is just as bad, beginning with a 3-18 record that includes a loss to the now 1-21 76ers in Bryant’s underwhelming homecoming. But while there’s certainly ample room for doom and gloom on the episode, Rey-Rey is Fundamental‘s Rey Moralde talks about some of the more positive aspects of the current Lakers, such as their exciting young core, led by Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and potentially D’Angelo Russell. Rey speaks glowingly about those guys, as well as less glowingly on the disappointing close to Bryant’s career and how poor of a job he believes Byron Scott is doing with this unit. Here are some highlights:

5:20-5:30: “It’s hard to watch, but for Kobe, he’ll just retire firing basically, like he’s just done his entire career.”

13:50-14:20: On the framework already in place and projecting the franchise’s future: “As much as there’s doom and gloom with the Lakers, they do have a few players that have potential in Russell, Randle and possibly Clarkson, if he stays, because I don’t know if someone else will scoop him up. But if they have those three, they add another one from the draft and they can Byron…if they get a young coach…and have him grow along with those four potential players, I think they could have something there.”

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