So much has been written and said about D’Angelo Russell’s ability to score, to go off on any given night, his passing, his court vision has been obscured. In a video tweeted out by @darintellect, we get a sense of just how good D-Lo can be, particularly in the open court.
Take at look at this compilation of nine passes @darintellect posted.
What can we draw from the video? Here’s some thoughts.
1. D-Lo likes to push as soon as he gets the ball.
The Nets like to run, as we saw this season. They played at the highest pace of any team and it’s only going to pick up with a healthy J-Lin and D-Lo on the floor. We saw instances last year where outlet passes were essentially useless. Guys like Trevor Booker even had the green light to grab the rebound and dribble up the floor! That wasn’t always ideal, but the point was getting the players into their sets much quicker. Oftentimes, they would come up short and be uncertain with what they should do with the ball. Russell looks comfortable and should help the Nets pile up fastbreak points. This all coincides with no. 4, too.
2. D-Lo and Mozgov DO have a connection.
Mozgov has good hands and can run the floor, works well with Russell in the pick-and-roll and even hits hit mid-range jumpers. Of the nine passes @darinintellect highlighted, D-Lo passedit to Mozgov four times.
3. D-Lo in the pick and roll and what it means for Atkinson’s spread offense.
When D’Angelo goes around a pick, he slows up and evaluates the situation. He doesn’t necessarily hesitate, but he sees the floor and how opponents cover the pick and roll. With his weapons on offense, he has a couple of options: If they come at him with an aggressive double, he has the ability to release to the rolling man. If they come from the perimeter, someone is bound to be open the way the Nets spread the floor and pass the ball. He could, of course, find a mismatch and drive or step back, or even find the man cutting baseline if they switch. Atkinson’s team ball method works, but he needs to let Russell go to work and handle the rock in order for good things to happen.
4. Don’t Hesitate if you’re going to create.
D’Angelo makes his decisions fast and he doesn’t hesitate when he’s driving to the hole or running the fastbreak. That’s what Atkinson wants: playmaking guards (as well as playmaking forwards, playmaking centers), but this team is made of mostly guards. Don’t get patience and hesitation mixed up. It’s good to be patient and see the floor, but it won’t work in the Nets’ system if you second guess yourself. Atkinson has a past of encouraging his guys to shoot the ball if you’re open (i.e. Brook Lopez).
5. In Atkinson’ offense, somebody is always moving off the ball.
You’ll see that Russell easily finds slashers and guys cutting baseline... It’s like he knows where they’re going to be before they’re even there - hence why he’s able to pull off the no-look passes. It’s a rare gift. The Nets moved mostly along the perimeter this past season, but with a playmaker like Russell, you’ll see more slash and cuts, baseline movement with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and/or Caris LeVert, both of whom will need to get stronger and finish better around the rim. The ball will be there.
Also, this weekend, ESPN reposted a Sports Science segment they did on Russell’s playmaking prior to the NBA Draft. The data doesn’t lie.
The motion offense was built for D’Angelo Russell and in a few months, we’ll get a look at how he will handle it, run it.