Culver City Observer -

Gail Goodrich: DeAngelo Russell Should Be Better This Season

Former Great Laker Guard Sees Youngster’s Vast Potential


October 13, 2016

Gail Goodrich is the greatest lefthanded guard the Lakers have ever had.

He played on two NCAA championship teams at UCLA, then teamed in the backcourt with Jerry West on two Laker NBA championship teams including the 1972 squad that set the still-standing record of 33 consecutive wins.

In 14 NBA seasons Goodrich averaged 18.6 points per game. Although he was the shooting guard and West handled the ball more often Goodrich managed to average 4.7 assists per game throughout his career.

I bring this up because DeAngelo Russell, the No. 2 pick in last year’s NBA draft, is being marketed by the Lakers as a point guard likely to lead the franchise back to prominence.

However, Russell struggled through his rookie season. Among others in the media I was critical of his play and I applauded the wisdom of Coach Byron Scott removing Russell from the starting lineup at times.

Russell averaged only 3.3 assists per game and even his backup, Marcelo Huertas, did better setting up teammates.

I told Goodrich I care about only two statistical categories involving point guards – assists and the record of the team. The Lakers, at 17-65 compiled the worst record in franchise history.

But Goodrich offered a rebuttal.

The 73-year-old Goodrich, who has moved to Idaho in retirement, was in LA recently and attended the Lakers’ exhibition game against the Denver Nuggets.

We go way back because I traveled with the Lakers in his playing days and I’ve seen him a few times since then. So when I brought up the subject of DeAngelo Russell he had a quick reply.

”He’s a lefthanded guard. Give him a chance. He was only 19 and you know how good we lefthanded guards can become.”

Yes, Goodrich was grinning when he said that.

But Russell may envision himself as the Laker most likely to take over Kobe Bryant’s role as the primary shotmaker when he’s supposed to be passing to give his teammates better scoring opportunities.

He can get hot as a three-point shooter and that might be his greatest skill. But Goodrich thinks he can do more.

“He does shoot a lot but we’ve had NBA guys who we call scoring point guards and they’ve been valuable players” said Goodrich. “He reminds me of those players.”

Russell missed all nine of his three-point attempts in the Lakers’ overtime loss to Portland Tuesday night.

Scott was tough on Russell but new coach Luke Walton has earned praise from Laker players for being tolerant. They like the fact he’s only 36 and is relating well to young players

But when I asked Walton about that he replied “there will be times this season when they won’t be happy with me. I know that’s coming.”


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