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DLo: Ready for combat, ready to establish his role

Brooklyn Nets Media Day Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

D’Angelo Russell makes his long-awaited and highly-anticipated debut in the Brooklyn Nets’ black and white on Tuesday. So, it’s only right that he was available for media after Monday’s practice.

Russell has said plenty, but now, he’s like a rising boxing contender fresh off an eight-week training camp before his world title shot: He’s done with words, and is ready for combat.

“I don’t really wanna talk about it honestly,” he said when asked what he expects people to be saying about the Nets a few weeks out. “I just wanna show we can play. I don’t wanna say something that’ll come back to bite me. I’ve learned that throughout the years. I just want to show my actions.”

Everyone knows Russell has a chip on his shoulder. Kenny Atkinson included.

The second-year head coach praised Russell’s overall demeanor and attitude off the court, as well as his fit and productivity on the court, specifically on the defensive end.

“I think he did a really good job in camp. He’s in it,” Atkinson remarked of the dynamic former Laker. “Offensively, he fits into the style of play. I’m really impressed with the pace that he’s playing with on the offensive end.

“His defense, especially on the ball has been pretty good. (There is) off-the-ball stuff he’s still got to clean up. He relaxes sometimes – still working on that. Pleasantly surprised so far overall, especially his defense, it’s been pretty good. Just got to keep on him about it.”

“He’s got a really good basketball I.Q. and he knows where to be,” he continued. “It’s just, when we were 21, we kind of drift. In this league, it’s just being able to do it for more possessions – generally I feel a push to prove something to show people he’s a pretty darn good player.”

Russell was complimentary of his new team, calling the internal competition level “really high.” But, he’s ready to go against some faces who are not as familiar as those he had been spending the summer with.

The 6-foot-5 combo guard also returned the praise Atkinson doled out for him, lending voice to the team’s desire to play pace-and-space basketball, which Russell feels can get the most out of him and the other guards on the team.

“I think it puts guards in a position to make things happen,” Russell said of Atkinson’s style of play. “When you’re a guard, you wouldn’t want anything more than that. Coach Kenny has done a great job of letting the guards just create and make stuff happen.”

With something to prove for the way he was unceremoniously discarded by Magic Johnson and company in Lakerland (though, it was mostly you, Magic), the new Net wants to improve on his level of consistency above all else. He acknowledged that it comes with experience, and although he couldn’t legally purchase alcohol as recently as nine months ago, he feels that it’s time for the stars to align – on both ends of the floor.

“I want to establish my role right away, whatever it is,” he said. “To be aggressive and make things happen. So guys know they can look to me and they’re going to get that. I feel like I can score the ball, I can create … just having a balance of doing that and when is the right time. (I want to) limit my turnovers, of course. Thanks to me being in this system I’ll have the opportunity to make that happen. It’s up to me to go out there and show it.”

Let the revenge tour begin.