Can D’Angelo Russell really help a contender in a trade?
D’Angelo Russell has spent the beginning of his career bouncing around the league, with all of the stops sticking clearly in basketball fans’ minds.
He caught the tail end of Kobe’s career with the Lakers, alongside Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson (and Nick Young…). He was one of the many young guns for the Bench Dance Nets, even earning an All-Star appearance in his time in Brooklyn. He was on track to average a career-high in points for the Golden State Warriors and even though his career for the Dubs only lasted 33 games, NBA fans can still remember what DLo looked like in their jersey. Russell is now in Minnesota, where the team has had ups and downs. He has found success in many lineups and has been trusted with playmaking duties on a team with a lot of talent and was instrumental in their success in the 2021-22 season.
This experience would be sure to make or break a player once they enter a winning situation and I believe that D’Angelo would thrive in such a situation.
Coming out of college, it was DLo’s playmaking ability that set him apart, complimented by his scoring and shooting. This trifecta of skills has been seen in many contenders and champions before.
Most notable was Manu Ginobili, who had a very similar frame to Russell, with the two of them being southpaws. Manu is a four-time NBA champion and it was in large part due to Ginobili’s skillset and role. Jordan Clarkson also comes to mind, with an even more similar frame to DLo, although Clarkson’s playmaking doesn’t meet Russell’s or Ginobili’s. Jason Terry’s role in the 2011 Dallas Maverick championship cannot be overlooked in this discussion either. On a team that desperately needed to put points on the board to help Dirk as well as play make in a pinch, the Jet played a pivotal part in their ring.
This skill set even played a large part last season with Jordan Poole applying pressure to the Warriors’ opponents when Curry was on the pine and took a step back while still attacking opponents while he shared the court with Steph.
But hang on, didn’t all of these guys come off the bench? Great pick up.
Russell’s skillset has been seen in the NBA quite a lot in recent history and it has found success in winning situations coming off the bench. Over the course of a 48-minute basketball game, you need to maintain an offensive momentum and identity. The Spurs, Jazz, Mavericks, and Warriors found this by promoting one of their better talents than him to a larger and more imperative role off the bench. The ability to keep an engine running while the starters are catching their breath addresses the philosophy and meta-game of a basketball contest. The role of a sixth man is that of the gradient you used in a PowerPoint presentation in grade three, making a seamless transition from when the starters check out to when they check back in.
Where starters need to fit a more rigid system with defined roles and excel defensively, being the first off the bench comes with a freedom that allows creative players to maximize their tools.
Russell is still only 26 years old. He has been on the fast track for experience in his young career and can take this experience to the next level if he were to join a contender in a trade. There is some cause for concern with his contract running out at the end of this season and him becoming an unrestricted free agent in the upcoming offseason, but this could also mean a contender could acquire him for a package that’s below his value. If a contender has success with DLo, then that could also lock him up on a longer-term deal which could be mutually beneficial for both parties.
Russell can really help a contender in a trade.