So much was made of Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors years ago and I still recall when he chose to come on over, can you blame the Warriors for opting to sign Kevin Durant over Harrison Barnes? No disrespect to Harrison Barnes who in my opinion is one of the most versatile scorers in the NBA and a high character player who carries himself like a professional but it is Kevin Durant who they chose, arguably the most lethal scorer the NBA has ever seen in it’s 74 year existence.
Kevin Durant did what we all expected from LeBron James in Miami and made the Warriors the dominant super-team the NBA was seeking, had Kevin Durant been available for the 2019 NBA Finals and the Warriors likely win the Finals in 6 but they would have completed
the 3-peat most definitely. So they get D’Angelo Russell in a sign and trade for Kevin Durant which is not a bad prize coming off losing a superstar the caliber of Kevin Durant. D’Angelo Russell is different from Kevin Durant skill wise, he is a lefty,a good 5-6 inches shorter,not as athletic, not as longer, and not the same overwhelming physical specimen Kevin Durant is.
There is no way of guarding Kevin Durant, ask Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams who had a hard time telling reporters after Durant’s 48 point game in the first round just how unguardable he was no matter what type of coverage you send at him. Not to mention the Warriors traded away Andre Iguodala who I was puzzled as to why they would move him, specially after losing Kevin Durant but I could understand the Warriors wanted to rid themselves of paying Andre Iguodala the $17 million he was due this coming season. Andre Iguodala is in my eyes a Hall-of-Famer but at this point he is an overpay at $17 million, best to wash off that contract.
Shaun Livingston also retired who surprisingly rebuilt his lost career in the NBA flourishing in a back-up role which allowed for him to flourish in Kerr’s motion offense where he served as a play-maker and scorer when on the floor. His athleticism and length made him very effective on both ends but Shaun Livingston is now retired and no longer a Golden State Warriors. The Warriors drafted Eric Paschall,Jordan Poole, and Alen Smailagic who all just may be thrust into the fire by Steve Kerr as early as this coming season as Steve Kerr looks to have all 3 ready by playoff time. All 3 rookies can shoot the 3 and can play multiple positions on the floor so I believe Steve Kerr will utilize all 3 and I predict 2 of the 3 will be part of Kerr’s rotation going into the 2020 NBA Playoffs, my prediction Poole and Paschall will see minutes in the playoffs.
But back to D’Angelo Russell who is coming off a season in which saw him average a career high 21.1 ppg as he carried the Brooklyn Nets into the playoffs and everyone believed Russell and Allen were going to be around another 4-5 years together in Brooklyn but Russell finds himself now on the Golden State Warriors alongside Stephen Curry,Klay Thompson, and Draymmond Green. At the end of the day the Warriors kept their core pieces and all 3 are in their primes at the moment, toss in a 23 year old D’Angelo Russell coming off a breakout season and something special might be brewing. D’Angelo Russell has not been known to be the most efficient guard in the NBA and he turns the ball-over quite a bit but those two deficiencies should be erased under Steve Kerr.
Why you might ask? Well in Kerr’s offense Russell will be playing a lot more off the ball and doing a lot more moving around on the court, on the Brooklyn Nets he became the Nets primary ball handler and I became so used to him holding the ball for over 6-7 seconds at times. Just like Russell rebuilt his image on the Brooklyn Nets escaping from the pressures of being the franchise savior of the Los Angeles Lakers after his fallout with Nick Young, Russell no longer has to live up to the pressure of being a franchise player, that falls in Stephen Curry’s hands who was the groundbreaker to the Golden State Warriors’ dominance over the past 5 years. D’Angelo Russell is a scorer and thinks like one, he is a really good passer but that is not his strong suite.
Judging off what I’ve seen from Russell since the start of his career I’ve realized he is a gunner at heart so the Warriors bodes well for him being that Curry is the most unselfish superstar in the game and could care less about leading the league in assists and points and sacrifice his stats by keeping himself off the ball allowing for his teammates to all get in a rhythm on the court by touching the basketball. When I think of the Golden State Warriors I think of the San Antonio Spurs, they drafted their superstar in Stephen Curry and drafted another in Klay Thompson and put the grit and attitude the team lacked by drafting Draymmond Green. Curry is Duncan,Klay is Parker, and Draymmond is Ginobili, I know play-styles and roles don’t match but you get where I am going with this.
I understand the Rockets,Lakers,and Clippers look like more favorable picks to come of the West but I’ll take my chances with Steph,Klay, and Draymmond. I’ve seen them win a championship together with Kevin Durant and I believe they would have completed the 3-1 comeback on the Raptors had Klay Thompson been available the fourth quarter of Game 6 and Game 7, sorry Raptors fans I will bank on Klay or Steph to go superhuman in Toronto and finish a historical comeback. The timing of the Warriors season will go perfect, Russell will be responsible early on and be called upon to be a second option behind Stephen Curry until Klay Thompson returns mid March. And come on do we not expect D’Angelo Russell to turn it up, no one could step up offensively in the playoffs for the Nets this past-season aside Russell but that will no longer be the case on the Warriors.
D’Angelo Russell will do enough offensively to help Stephen Curry carry the load on the offensive end, let’s not forget Stephen Curry is now in his 30’s so we should expect for Kerr to monitor his minutes considering his style of play which requires an infinite amount of stamina to be able to keep defenders moving and chasing him off the ball. Curry’s off the ball movement should free up more isolation opportunities for Russell which allow him to become a play-maker and scorer on the Warriors. Once Klay Thompson gets back in the lineup D’Angelo Russell will get an inifinite amount of space on the floor while Klay and Curry both roam off the ball so I guess we can say the Warriors’ season lays on D’Angelo Russell’s hands, can he take the next step in his development and become a winner? We will see.
To conclude I think there are at least 60-70 players in the NBA that if put in a situation where an offense is built around them they could put up all-star numbers, D’Angelo Russell being one of them along with Devin Booker who’s stats have got Phoenix nowhere despite him averaging 26 ppg with 6.8 apg for the Phoenix Suns. It’s no longer about D’Angelo Russell putting up gaudy stat lines, we know he can score 30-40 points and average 20 ppg in a season the real question is can he become a winner? Carmelo Anthony chose money in New York over a winning situation 5-6 years ago, D’Angelo Russell could have done the same but he finds himself on the Warriors a team chasing championships. D’Angelo Russell’s heart and will will be put the test this coming season.