Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports
By Darryn Albert  |  Last updated 12/16/16

Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles in the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

You certainly can’t knock Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell for a lack of ambition.

In a recent interview with Baxter Holmes of ESPN, Russell opened up about the struggles he experienced in his rookie season and the idealistic vision he has for the Lakers’ future as they move forward with head coach Luke Walton.

“I don’t want that ever again,” Russell said of his first year in the NBA, in which the Lakers went 17-65. “I don’t want to come in with a losing record. I don’t want to go to a losing team and you’ve got guys going every which way after practice — the chemistry just wasn’t there. I feel like with this team and with this organization, people want to be a part of it. People want to be Lakers.

“There’s just so much pressure, and some guys handle it and some guys can’t,” continued the former No. 2 overall pick. “I’ve always been a guy that, I don’t know, just attacks pressure. I want to be a part of this whole thing turning back around. I’ve seen what it was to be at its lowest point. I want to be a part of a playoff run this year … next year, Finals.”

The 20-year-old Russell hit rock bottom as a rookie, openly clashing with the since-fired Byron Scott and causing some serious internal strife with his infamous leaked video of teammate Nick Young. But the Lakers as a whole have turned over a new leaf under Walton’s guidance this season, playing a fun, harmonious brand of basketball to return to at least some sort of relevance in the Western Conference.

Russell’s two-year plan for the Lakers may be just a tad overly optimistic given that they’re only 10-18 on the year and are losers of their last eight games in a row. But it’s still great to see him find his light again as a sophomore and embrace the team’s “I love basketball” mantra to its fullest.

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