In interviews carried on the Nets website Friday, both D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie talked about how their pairing in the Nets backcourt.
“Sky is the limit,” exulted Russell.
“How about Spencer man? He’s been amazing,” Russell told Brooklynnets.com. “For him to go through the adversity that he’s been throughout his career and come in here, step up and be one of our main guys, I salute him too.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there with him. Getting my sweat back and having a guy like him, of his caliber, right next to you. I think the sky is the limit.”
Dinwiddie, who started the season as a back-up to Russell and Jeremy Lin, seconded the emotion.
“He’s obviously an extremely-talented guy. He’s another guy who’s going to create and make shots at a very high level,” Dinwiddie said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think we could create havoc on the offensive end and present advantages on the defensive end as well. “
Both agreed as well that the twosome could take some time to gel —they’ve only been the court together for 46 minutes so far this season. But they are confident that it will work. Kenny Atkinson said much the same last week, noting that the Nets original backcourt pairing, Russell and Lin, featured similar skillsets. But Dinwiddie, at 6’6” gives the Nets and Atkinson additional opportunities.
“I think in our point, just trying to go out there and pushing each other, making sure that we’ve both got that competitive edge,” Russell said. “We both want to win in everything we do and want to be the two best guards on the floor.”
Dinwiddie has averaged nearly 15 points and seven assists in Russell’s 33-game absence. The two have the team’s highest scoring games. Russell scored 33 vs. the Suns back on October 31, Dinwiddie 31 vs. the Raptors on January 8.
No one is yet saying how long it will take for the D2 lineup to pile up minutes together. There will be a period of “integration” for DLo, said Atkinson.
“When he comes back, expect a buildup in minutes. Is it better he starts or is it better he comes off the bench? We still have to make that decision,” Atkinson said. “It’s a good problem to have. You have three guys who can handle the ball, who can pick and roll. We can play them together; we can stagger them…That can only help our team.”
Sean Marks said the same thing in his WFAN interview before the Knicks game.
“I’m intrigued about getting D’Angelo back in the lineup, seeing how it unfolds with all these other young guys here,” said the GM who traded for DL. “I think we’ve got to compete, night in, night out, and our guys are learning how to do that.
In a quickie interview with beat writers at Friday’s early afternoon shootaround, Russell said he’s never worked as hard in his life as he has in his rehab to come back.
@Dloading says he's never worked as hard in his life as he has in his rehab to come back. He'll return tonight vs. the #Heat. #Nets pic.twitter.com/GfVmpaXKVy— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) January 19, 2018
And the player who Magic Johnson doesn’t think is a leader had some words for what fans (and those who are not fans) and expect from the Nets the rest of the way.
“I think for us, it’s constantly building our image. The Brooklyn Nets – we are what you hear,” Russell said. “When you hear about the Brooklyn Nets, you hear about Brooklyn Grit, Grind…All of that. So just building our identity and image.
“Going into every game and teams know what to expect from us – day in and day out. I think that’s what we have to constantly keep preaching.”