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D’Angelo Russell on Nets: ‘We have the pieces’

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The Net combo guard discussed the team’s evolution, experience and his “itch” to begin his fourth NBA season, which will go underway Wednesday evening

Rhea Nall

We can already call 22-year-old D’Angelo Russell an NBA veteran.

The fourth-year combo guard is one of many Nets fighting for a shiny, new, long-term contract, but that wasn’t his focus when addressing media on Tuesday at the HSS Training Center in Sunset Park, where the Nets prepared for the Wednesday season opener in Detroit.

Russell’s just “itching” to get started.

“Man. Itch is the word,” he said. “I think we’ve been spending a great amount of time here this summer trying to go out there and compete against other teams. The work’s been paying off, a lot of guys have gotten better, so I think it’s time for that.”

Russell was also big on preparation, saying that he’s looking forward to the Nets putting their optimism and hard work into actions.

“I just want us to put it all together,” he said. “The sooner the better. I keep saying that we have the pieces. There’s nothing like being prepared for anything coming your way. I feel like our preparation has been better than ever. I think we’re prepared for anything to come our way.

“I want to win more,” he added, asked of what his personal goals entail for 2018-19. “I feel like those games that come down, that we didn’t win, I could’ve played a better part in it. I feel like good teams in this league always find a way to win and bad teams find a way to lose. If we can come together as a team and find a way to win those games that we lost last year, I think our buzz will be different, and our outcome will be different as well.”

Also, Russell is entering the final season of his rookie deal with a future in question. He’s been to undergo a variety of different experiences throughout his four years, from being Kobe Bryant’s anointed successor to sitting on the sidelines a continent away.

Now, as a veteran guard, and a leader on this Net roster, he believes that the experience – both his own and his teammates’ – should make a big difference for Brooklyn this season.

Although they are “the young team”, much of the core – like Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and others – are now in years 3-through-5.

“Guys coming in going on year 3 or year 4 versus guys coming in on year 1, year 2, is a big difference,” said Russell. “That experience alone kind of gets you the separation. Age is an excuse in this league. Experience is what gets guys over the hump. Bumping your head a few times, learning that and being a professional allows you to take that next step and I feel like we’ve got a lot of guys who have attacked being professional on and off the court. Routine like things, diet stuff like that that plays a major part in consistency and being successful. I think in general, those are the things we’ve attacked.”