One thing to look for Sunday night: D’Angelo Russell’s shot selection ... particularly early.
DLo opened up the Nets’ preseason with an aggressive approach, taking several tough shots in the first quarter against the Knicks. He scored 12 points on 11 shots in the first half. It looked like he had the green light whenever.
Now that doesn’t seem to be the case. Before Brooklyn’s second preseason game against the Miami Heat, Newsday’s Greg Logan asked Kenny Atkinson about Russell’s shot selection.
Atkinson answered with three stern words: “It’s been addressed,” as he walked off the podium and back into the locker room.
Russell struggled in the following preseason game vs. Miami (We know, we know.. preseason) but he wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he was the first game.
The Nets have preached team basketball from the day Kenny Atkinson took the job. Very rarely did one player take more than 20 shots last season. In fact, 20-point scorer Brook Lopez took 20 or more shots only 10 times. Jeremy Lin and Sean Kilpatrick hit the 20-shot level once each. Kilpatrick’s 34 shots vs. the Clippers (when he scored 38 points in late November) was by far the most taken in any game last season. Typically, the scoring is balanced.
“I think that speaks to when you have depth and balance,” Atkinson said after the Knicks game. “I think that’s how we’re going to have to do it. It’s going to be a balanced effort.”
To be fair, Russell wanted to show fans what he can do in that game. It’s only natural to want to make a good first impression... particularly when you’re starting over.
“The first preseason game is an opportunity for me to lay my stamp on what I’ve been working on,” Russell told beat writers the day before the game.
”But more importantly, with the team I want to establish my role right away — whatever it is — just be aggressive and make things happen, so guys know they can look to me and know they’re going to get that from me.”
Now, the question is what will his game look like Sunday?
Before Sunday’s game, Atkinson explained it’s not a DLo problem as much as it is a team issue.
“Not to single D’Angelo [Russel] out. It’s a team conversation with us. We have a section on our film and we talk about shot selection – what a good one is for us and what a bad shot is for us. And you know, for D’Angelo this is a new system,” Atkinson said.
“I presume coaches are different what they think a good shot is and a bad shot is. Good shot for me is different for another coach. I think we’re trying to figure it out. This is a general area of improvement for our whole team. Across the board we’ve been average to below average in terms of shot selection.
“That’s on me too to get these guys to understand what kind of shot we’re looking for.”
Full audio can be found here: