New York Post – Where D’Angelo Russell is really hurting the Nets
紐約郵報 – 拉塞爾真正傷害籃網的地方
D’Angelo Russell’s offensive gifts are wonderful, but so far his defense has been woeful.
And in the season’s early stages, it’s pretty obvious that as long as he has a hard time guarding his opponent the Nets will have a hard time winning.
If that wasn’t clear before, it was crystalized in Tuesday’s loss to the Suns.
“We let them do what they wanted,” Russell said. “I think it starts with me, putting pressure on the ball and stuff like that. Spencer Dinwiddie was great and made that happen.”
Russell has started every game when healthy this season, all at the point since Jeremy Lin’s season-ending knee injury. But it was Dinwiddie who led the 23-2 third-quarter charge Tuesday to get the lead, and Russell who checked back in with the Nets up 106-98 with 6:35 left and saw them promptly blow the game by allowing an 18-2 run.
The fact is Brooklyn’s offense has looked better with Russell off the ball, and their defense has looked better with him off the floor.
The young guard’s Defensive Rating of 117.2 was not only by far the worst on the team, it was 378th of 417 players on the NBA website. He was 10th-worst among all players who had logged at least 15 minutes. Several of those worse were just bit players; with Russell a building block. It’s a long-term issue Brooklyn must fix.
Russell has 6-foot-5 size, impressive length and quick hands, having shown a penchant for getting steals. But what he hasn’t done is pressure the ball the way Nets foes have this season, harassing and distracting opposing point guards.
When asked if he’ll have to alter his game to do so, or simply do what he does better, he delved into the changes he’ll have to make.
“That just forces you to get in better shape, forces you to not foul,” Russell said. “You’ve always got to feel out the game: You can’t get two quick fouls early in the game and have it affect the team. So with that you’ve got to be smart at the same time.”
This will surely be an ongoing process. Russell’s 113.4 defensive rating last season with the Lakers was 210th out of 224 guards, and second-worst among those who logged at least half of their team’s games. It was a point of emphasis when Brooklyn got him from the Lakers, against whom he’ll make his return Friday.
“He’s got a good IQ. He knows where to be. Sometimes when you’re 21 you just drift,” Atkinson said before training camp. “In this league, it’s just being able to do it for more possessions. Sometimes you get — whether it’s fatigue or focus — [lapses].”
He’s shown those lapses this season, a team-worst minus-15.4 Net rating and a team-worst minus-22 against the Suns. He put no ball pressure on Devin Booker (30 points) or Mike James (24 points), with Booker spinning him around 180 degrees on the fast break.
“Obviously he started out real strong and had the setback with the little injury, and is now trying to gain his rhythm back. But as far as picking up what we’re doing, trying to implement and buy into our principles, he’s been outstanding,” Atkinson said Tuesday. “The leadership’s going to come. That’s going to take time. Think of yourself at 22 years old.”
Russell is actually just 21, and celebrated Booker’s 21st birthday Monday night, posting a picture of the two friends on Instagram at 1am. Now he’ll see more old friends when Brooklyn travels to face his old Lakers team on Friday.
“It’s the next game so hopefully we can get a win,” said Russell, denying any added incentive to beat the team that drafted and then traded him two years later, Magic Johnson ripping him on the way out the door. “Personally, I want to win. Personally, I want to win.”