It finally happened in 2019 but D’Angelo Russell is living up to his playmaking abilities like back in his Ohio State University days. Taking a trip down memory lane, Russell was one of the most electric playmakers at the college level back in 2014, with averages of 19.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5 APG, and 1.6 SPG. It was good enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to selected him 2nd overall in the 2015 NBA draft over guys like Kristap Porzingis, Justise Winslow, Devin Booker, and Willie Cauley-Stein, who were all highly scouted. Although he averaged 14 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4APG, and 1.3 SPG, he was considered a bust at the time due to high expectations. After just 2 seasons with the Lakers, they traded him to the Brooklyn Nets. The trade was the Nets receive Russell and Timofey Mozgov (who is currently on the Orlando Magic) and the Lakers receive Brook Lopez (who is on the Milwaukee Bucks currently) and the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft which resulted into a rising star, in Kyle Kuzma. During 2017, Magic Johnson said the Los Angeles Lakers “needed a leader”, now we fast forward to 2019 and D’Angelo Russell is leading the Brooklyn Nets into the right direction.
We are going to skip the 2018 season because Russell only played 35 games due to injuries. Let’s jump into 2019 and go over how good D’Angelo Russell has been this season. First off, we have to mention his durability. The Nets have played 53 games so far this season and Russell has only missed one game, resulting in 52 games played/started so far in the season. He is currently averaging a career high in points per game with 19.6, as well as a new career high in assists per game with 6.4. He is also tacking on 3.8 RPG and 1.2 SPG. His scoring has been the main factor of his game this season when considering that he has 27 games where he has scored 20+ points. It turns out after all that he became a leader in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets. They are currently the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference and they are on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2015. In the most notable news, Russell will officially be making his first career all-star appearance, replacing the injured Victor Oladipo (prayers for a speedy recovery). After seeing this breakout year happen in front of our eyes, I think it’s time we start appreciating Russell more as a player. I mean he has “ice in his veins” after all. Turning 23 in late February, Rusell has the skill set to be a great player in the league for years to come.