D'Angelo Russell's goal with Lakers? Adding to 10 trophies: 'There's room'

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A half hour before D'Angelo Russell was introduced to local media at the Los Angeles Lakers' practice facility here Monday, the team's No. 2 overall pick in last week's draft stood in the second-floor office of team president Jeanie Buss.

There, the former Ohio State standout marveled at the 10 Larry O'Brien Championship trophies lining her window that overlooks the practice court, each one from a title the organization has won since it moved to Los Angeles.

The promising 19-year-old guard stared at them, touched them and posed for pictures alongside them, at one point stretching his nearly 6-foot-10 wingspan across seven of the glistening gold trophies as he smiled for the cameras.

"I've never seen the trophy," he told ESPN.com. "The big guy that everybody wants to play for, I've never seen it. Never touched it. So I wanted to take advantage of it. It's something that I definitely want to be apart of -- getting a new one up there. There's room."

Winning a title is an annual expectation for the storied franchise, and there are already equally enormous expectations for Russell, the team's highest draft pick since taking James Worthy No. 1 overall in 1982.

When Russell was drafted, Lakers coach Byron Scott said Russell had the potential to be a "superstar" and mentioned him in the same breath as Magic Johnson (whom Scott played alongside) and Chris Paul (whom Scott has coached).

And when Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak called Russell on the night he was drafted, Kupchak referenced the retired jerseys hanging in the Lakers' facility and said he hoped Russell would one day join them.

Indeed, there's pressure on Russell to not only live up to the hype but to help the franchise rebound after missing the playoffs each of the last two seasons and finishing a franchise-worst 21-61 last season.

Russell, the team's most dynamic point guard since Johnson, feels the pressure, too.

"Definitely," he said. "It's a whirlwind. These guys aren't used to losing, so for them to pick me and pick these other guys, you know they're ready to start the rebuilding process over. We don't know how much Kobe [Bryant] has left in the tank, but he's a part of it. He's a leader of it. For us to learn under him and all these young guys we have, it's something that can really get going quick."

Russell comprises a young core that includes fellow first-round pick Larry Nance Jr., a forward from the University of Wyoming selected 27th overall; Stanford wing Anthony Brown who was selected 34th overall; forward Julius Randle, the team's top draft pick from 2014; second-year center Tarik Black and guard Jordan Clarkson, the team's second-round pick last year who earned All-Rookie First Team honors.

"Just to have the honor to be here and know that you're one of these valuable pieces that's really trying to get this show back on the road, it's a great feeling," Russell said.

Ever since landing the No. 2 overall pick on the May 19 draft lottery, the Lakers were expected to select a center -- either Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke's Jahlil Okafor. Instead, they selected Russell, which surprised many, including him.

"Was extremely shocked to be here," Russell said. "I didn't think it was going to pan out the way it did."

But he has already connected with the team's veteran star, Bryant, who has one year left on his contract with the Lakers and will be 37 when next season begins.

"He was just talking about the things he's heard about me," Russell said. "And I just wanted to let him know that I was a sponge, and I really wanted to know if he was able to take me under his wing and be a mentor towards me and show me the ins and outs of this league to really be successful and stick around. That's the main thing that I got from our message."

It's expected that Bryant, who is recovering from a season-ending shoulder injury, will be healthy and start next season, but it's unclear who will start alongside him -- Russell or Clarkson, both of whom are considered combo guards, able to play both guard positions.

The two will get a chance to play together during Summer League competition in Las Vegas in mid-July.

"I'm a guy that can play with anybody," Russell said. "He can play off the ball, with the ball. I feel like it gives us an advantage to be young and we can grow together."

As for his position -- point guard or shooting guard -- Russell said, "I consider myself a basketball player. If that's me playing off the ball or being that main facilitator to get guys involved, I feel like I'm willing to do it and it's evenly balanced."

When asked about his athleticism and how it compared to others in the draft, Russell said, "I consider myself the top basketball player in the draft. If that's me being the most athletic guy or non-athletic, I'm going to get the job done."

But for as high as expectations are, Russell said he's trying to remain calm and acclimate to life in Los Angeles as a member of its marquee NBA team.

"The weather is great. I know everybody lives here and everybody wants to be here," he said. "But just to get the opportunity to really say this is home is a blessing."

Russell didn't hesitate when asked whether he was ready for the Hollywood-bright spotlight, one that could be centered on him after Bryant leaves.

"Definitely," Russell said.