After a lot of NBA ups and downs, a trade, disrespect by a Hall of Famer, and Lonzo Ball revenge, D’Angelo Russell is finally meeting expectations. Recently, I mean a few days ago, against the Orlando Magic and on the road, D’Angelo Russell dropped in a nice 40 in 33 minutes. He shot 64%, 66% from three, dished out 7 dimes, and this was the important D’Angelo stat: he only had 1 turnover. While it’s easy to toss one game into the bonfire because a lot of games are played and so what, one big monumental game- this is so what.
D’Angelo Russell is having the best year of his career and in a contract year- surprise, surprise. So Russell, either by Brooklyn or someone else who needs a point guard, will get paid based on what he is doing right now.
D’Angelo Russell is 22 years old. He took a lot of grief early in his career as he should have. His immaturity, coupled with the fact that he didn’t really understand where he fit in, produced mammoth sized growing pains. When he should have been in college he was in the NBA and everyone held it against him how silly and fun loving and not necessarily committed he was. It frustrated coaches but really he was being who his age said he was.
Getting out of Los Angeles was the best thing to happen to D’Angelo Russell and in his second year in Brooklyn he is averaging 19 points but playing less than 30 minutes. Everything is consistent this year. He is hitting his mid-range jumpers. He is draining long 2’s. His threes are no longer streaky. Russell is showing some skill despite his lack of elite speed.
Russell the scorer is draining 43% of his jump shots. How does that compare to another guard in the East, say Bradley Beal? Beal is making 39% of his jump shots.
The Nets are going to have to make a decision on Russell and where they think he fits and how much of their offense they are going to commit to him. Is Russell, who isn’t a natural point, kind of a Jrue Holiday point guard? Is that how the Nets see the organization going forward?
It’s been working so far with Russell starting and Spencer Dinwiddie coming off the bench. It makes the Nets potent in every quarter and don’t look now but the Nets have a winning record and are in the playoff picture. D’Angelo Russell is big part of the reason why.
D’Angelo Russell’s last 10 games: a 40, (2) 30+, (5) 20+, and because he needs to remind everyone he is still D’Angelo, he had a 10 point and 5 point game. Still, it’s a trend. You can trust D’Angelo Russell now. You can depend on him. You can talk about on the court and not his off the court past.
D’Angelo always had the swag and cockiness and confidence but it wasn’t derivative of achievement. He had not done anything on the court to make anyone respect his game. He was a rookie, and then he was a second year player with a lot of hype, potential, loving himself but nothing really to show for it.
The best thing D’Angelo Russell did was keep his mouth shut when Magic Johnson dissed Russell’s game after trading him, implying he wasn’t a leader. He wasn’t. Not then. The second best thing Russell did was this year when the Lakers came to town. He destroyed Lonzo Ball. He had 22 points and 13 assists in the win. That is how you clapback. Show the team that traded you that the person who replaced you isn’t a better player.
D’Angelo Russell isn’t All-Star material yet. He still has to prove he is consistent with his shot selection, taking care of the ball and competitive drive. He still isn’t a great 4th quarter shot maker, not when you line him up against Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie is shooting 50% in the 4th while Russell manages 39%. So Dinwiddie has to be on the floor in crunch time but that doesn’t mean Russell isn’t best served exactly where he is. Running things for the Nets. In a contract year. And maybe in the playoffs.