Brooklyn Nets: Defending D’Angelo Russell

Brooklyn Nets, D'Angelo Russell
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ric Bucher was on Colin Cowherd’s show, the Herd, a few weeks ago and he had some choice words concerning former Brooklyn Nets point guard, D’Angelo Russell.

In this clip, Bucher makes one outlandish statement after another. Honestly, I couldn’t believe some of the things I was hearing. Ric Bucher called D’Angelo Russell “a me guy”, a younger Nick Young, and said Russell can’t fit in with what the Golden State Warriors like doing.

Let’s address these one by one shall we?

Nick Younger?
It seems no matter what, people refuse to let D’Angelo Russell grow passed the debacle he had early in his career with Nick Young. For those unfamiliar, during his rookie year, Russell recorded what should’ve been a private conversation with fellow teammate, Young.

The conversation revealed that Young was being unfaithful to Iggy Azalea, who was Young’s partner at the time. Admittedly this was a dumb move, but Russell is a very different person today. Russell, shy of one situation, has been a model citizen since his arrival in Brooklyn.

He’s worked hard, he’s been a leader, he’s led by example. Sean Marks and the Nets organization could hardly ask for more out of their former player. As far as personalities and behaviors go, since coming to Brooklyn, Russell and Young couldn’t be further apart.

Nick Young is a vibrant fun personality, but for his career, he was the class clown. He never quite knew when to take things seriously. Russell displayed a fun natured attitude, but in the right place and right time. That side of him usually showed while he celebrated his team on the bench or during the waterboarding of post-game wins. No shot at Nick Young whatsoever, but the culture in Brooklyn is built to withstand a character like Young, not built with or by said character.

D’Lo a Fit For Golden State?

How can someone look at D’Angelo Russell’s game and not think he was perfectly crafted for playing in the Warriors’ system. Let’s start with the fact that Russell had career-best shooting splits. He hit roughly 37% from distance.

On a team like that, where the 3 has really been their thing, you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter that wouldn’t fit that team.
With Russell, the Golden State Warriors get a great shooter from the mid-range. I know with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the world automatically think this team is all threes. What you may not know is that the Warriors have shot more and more mid-range shots.

D’Angelo actually has a mid-range game and he pulls it out often. With the opposition worried about Russell’s 3 ball, he is often able to pump fake or breakdown a defender. This leaves him for many mid-range jumpers for the taken. And he feels comfortable shooting them, even with some being more contested than the others.

Breaking down the defense has an added effect. It puts stress on the defense. Its puts D’Angelo Russell in position to use his vision and playmaking, both of which are things he’s known for doing more than well. Breaking down the defense gets shooters open and Russell has the size, vision, and playmaking ability to distribute the ball to teammates on time. He’ll be a good replacement for the team losing some playmaking in Andre Iguodala and probably Shaun Livingston. That, by the way, is another big difference between Swaggy P and D’Lo. Russell is a much more willing to distribute the ball.


And that brings me to my next point, Ric Bucher called Russell a “Me Guy”. Now I’m not sure if Ric Bucher has a source that tells him Russell is a totally different person behind closed doors, but Russell is anything but a me guy. He loves playmaking for teammates.

After post-game-winning waterboarding, Russell would always give teammates credit. Russell always thanked Coach Kenny Atkinson and the developmental coaching staff. He never lets the veterans become forgotten in the wake of his success. When the Brooklyn Nets clinched a playoff spot and we beat the Miami Heat towards the end of the season, D’Angelo did not allow too much time be spent on him and his team. He immediately changed the topic to the newly retired NBA legend, Dwayne Wade.

Early in the season when Russell would get benched for mistakes, he never showed signs up frustration or attitude for losing time to teammates. You can’t build a foundation and a culture such as the one the Brooklyn Nets has built over the years with a “Me Guy” as a leader. It’s built to be able to absorb guys like that without hitches, not to use guys like that as the first brick being laid.

It really seems like the NBA and its media won’t give D’Angelo Russell his just dues outside of Brooklyn. Slightly before, during, and after the Warriors acquired Russell, he was already in trade rumors.

Now we have Ric Bucher’s unchallenged opinion that he’s completely entitled to. But Russell has grown too much as a player and a man for people to downplay or ignore that growth. And just because he is no longer a member of the Brooklyn Nets, doesn’t mean I should turn an eye to him if someone is doing him a disservice. D’Angelo Russell has a lot to do with the Nets having the off-season they did this year. D’Lo will always have a home here.

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