D’Angelo Russell is not (yet) an elite NBA guard, but tonight we’ll see how he stacks up against one, Damian Lillard. And until now, Dame has not been very kind to DLo.
Over the course of his two-year career, Russell is 0-and-6 when he’s played opposite Lillard.
Here’s the breakdown... so far:
During Russell’s rookie season, 2015-16, when he started in 48-of-80 appearances, he played in 2-of-3 against Lillard. Russell put together some nice games against the All-Star. The problem was what Dame did to DLo.
In three games, Russell averaged 16.7 points and 4.3 assists on 54.5 percent shooting from the field, and 50 percent from deep. This includes a 21-point outburst in the final showing between the two, when Russell put together an offensive onslaught in 22 minutes in the sixth man role. He saw plenty of Lillard throughout the game.
Lillard dropped 36 points with wildly efficient 14-of-19 shooting in that game and didn’t do much worse in the other two. In the three games, Lillard had averages of 31.7 points and 8.3 assists on 55.6 percent shooting from the field, and 44.8 percent from three vs. Russell.
In Russell’s sophomore season, DLo started all three of his appearances against Lillard, and his averages were a respectable 17.7 points: two 22-point showings sandwiched around a nine-point performance. He didn’t do much else: 3.3 assists per game while shooting 35.3% from the floor, and 5 percent ... that’s right ... 1-of-19 from deep.
In turn, Lillard averaged 21 points on 38.1 percent shooting and 34.6 percent from three, along with 7.0 assists. They did have one “duel” in January that was not badly matched. DLo had 22 and shot 10-of-11 from the line while Dame put up 21 put added 10 assists and five boards. Here are some highlights. By the way, Allen Crabbe had 14 points in the contest.
While the numbers in year two of their rivalry aren’t that far apart (other than that five percent deep shooting), the Blazers beat the Lakers all three times.
For now, and until DLo can prove otherwise, the two are in different tiers.
Russell, much like this season so far with the Nets, has demonstrated his immense talent level at times vs. Lillard, but at still only 21 with a couple years in the league, he’s chasing consistency. In this case it’s against someone whose games he can model ... down the line.
Still, it should be entertaining, and perhaps we’ll gauge if those coaching moments from Kenny Atkinson will ground Russell ahead of this test.