Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has the potential to become an All-Star but he needs to improve on a number of things to get there.
The Brooklyn Nets faced another disappointing season but have given their fans something to smile about. Brooklyn not only won eight more games this season than it did in 2016-17, but it looks like they have found a promising star in D’Angelo Russell.
Brooklyn hasn’t had an Eastern Conference All-Star since Joe Johnson during the 2013-2014 season. Russell has the potential to become the Nets’ next representative on the Eastern Conference squad.
His teammates believe it.
“Nobody in this arena will question his talent. You just want him to do it consistently,” DeMarre Carroll told Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “D’Angelo’s probably the closest thing we have to an All-Star on our team if he did it consistently. Me, being his big brother, being a leader, I just challenge him to come in and hit it hard every day.
Coming here he wanted a new beginning, a new start. He had high hopes. He played well for us at times, but he just has to be more consistent. If we can get a more consistent D’Angelo, that’d help our team a ton. He just has to come in this summer and buy in, hit the weights, do what the performance team tells him to do, live in this gym like Caris [LeVert] did last year.”
How can he get there? There are three things that need to improve in order for Russell to take the next step in his development.
As Carroll noted, consistency will be key in Russell’s development. The 22-year-old has had brilliant shooting performances that boost the Nets offense and helps win games, but far too often follows them up with duds.
When he’s having an off shooting night, Russell can still impact the game with his passing.
He’s shown the ability to be a magician when dishing the rock and orchestrating ball movement, but again, is inconsistent in doing so.
Russell is arguably the worst defensive player on the Nets. That’s not going to help him become an All-Star, nor is it going to help him become the leader of this team.
He gives opposing guards far too much room to operate, allowing them to either drive the lane or move the ball down low, where the Nets have a massive defensive void. The defense looked far better and more efficient when Spencer Dinwiddie was on the floor.
Russell has impressive quickness and length for an NBA guard. He needs to apply that on the defensive end to force stops and turnovers.
In early November, Russell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, which took him out of action for several months. He only played in 48 of the Nets 82 games this season.
While you can’t blame a player for getting hurt, and it’s fair to expect them to be rusty upon their return, it was visibly clear that he lacked confidence in his knee once he came back.
He avoided contact and primarily focused on spot-up shooting, which isn’t his strength.
Russell needs to put in the work this offseason to not only continue to strengthen his knee, but to ensure that he’s confident enough on it to play his game.