Brooklyn Nets: D’Angelo Russell Deserves to be an All-Star
The Brooklyn Nets are one of the NBA’s feel-good stories this season. After starting the season 8-18, including an 8 game losing streak, the Nets have made a complete 180 and now find themselves in 6th in the Eastern Conference. Leading this charge for Brooklyn has been D’Angelo Russell who has been playing at an All-star like level this season.
D’Angelo Russell is in his second season with Brooklyn after coming over via trade from the Lakers. Last season, although Russell showed spurts of turning the corner, he was slowed down by injury. In only 48 games played last season, Russell averaged 15.5 points per game, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds. This all in only about 25 minutes per game. Even though the lead storyline for the Nets last season was the rise of Spencer Dinwiddie, Russell’s play was also something that didn’t go unnoticed. It seemed as though a change of scenery was just what Russell needed.
This season though has truly been a career year for D’Angelo. Since Caris LeVert went down with a serious leg injury in November, Russell has stepped up and become one of the leaders of this young Nets squad. He is averaging 19.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, and about 3.7 rebounds. Russell is also shooting 37% from 3 point range and 81% from the free throw line. Early on this season, Russell the knock on Russell was his inconsistency. He would have a good game or two and then have a game where he was just nonexistent. However, over the last 2 months, his game has taken not only a big step in improvement but also consistency.
One of the things the Nets lacked during their early season struggles was a closer. LeVert had shown early he could be that guy for the team but with him going down it seemed the team didn’t know who to go to during crunch time. This is where D’Angelo has stepped up recently. He is getting the ball in late game situations and coming through. Against LeBron and the Lakers, Russell hit a dagger 3 pointer late in the 4th quarter and then went on to do his patented “Ice In My Veins” celebration. More recently Russell hit a go-ahead 3 pointer with less than 40 seconds left against the Magic last week.
As of late Russell has been on a tear. Over his last 11 games, Russell has scored 22 or more points in 9 of them and has scored 30+ in 3 of his last 4 games. This includes a 40 point game against the Magic. They would eventually go on to win. This stretch was good enough for Russell to be awarded the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
Another interesting stat that separates Russell from the rest of the pack is that he is one of two players in the league who have totals of 900 points, 300 assists and 100 3 pointers made. The other player is James Harden. Russell’s play is exactly why he deserves an All-Star selection. In the Eastern Conference, he ranks 4th among guards in scoring, 5th in assists, 2nd in total 3 pointers made and 9th in steals. What’s more impressive about all this is that he plays less than 30 minutes per game.
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) January 21, 2019
Over their last 22 games, the Nets are 17-5 and 8-2 over their last 10 games. It has been a collective team effort but it is clear D’Angelo is at the forefront of it. He is the best player on one of the league’s hottest teams over the past 2 months. Even other players are taking notice around the league like Suns guard Devin Booker. Although he may not get the fan vote, it’s hard-pressed to think one of the All-Star captains wouldn’t consider picking D-Lo for their squad.
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