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D’Angelo Russell - getting his rhythm back, appreciating Brooklyn

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NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In answer to questions from the Nets’ Tom Dowd, D’Angelo Russell talks about how much his Brooklyn experience has been different from the one in L.A., where he played two years, often beleaguered by suggestions that he was immature, not a leader.

Overall, DLo talked about just how different the two cities are now that he’s spent a year on the East Coast.

“It’s cool,” said Russell of Brooklyn. “It’s different. The whole culture is different. I feel like there’s a lot of different crowds out here. You can fit in wherever you want to fit in. It’s great.”

Russell seems to appreciate the difference between how the two cities treat celebrity. L.A. exalts it as part of the Hollywood culture. You can’t ignore it. It’s in your face. In New York, you can go about your business, anomalously if that’s the way you want it.

Russell, the overall No. 2 pick in the 2015, was immediately anointed the next big Lakers star, tagging along on Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour as a 19-year-old. And it didn’t work out.

Now, he’s got a bit of a breather. The Nets are definitely not the Lakers and he likes that the franchise is committed to player care (and protection) and that his coach is working-class, like his Louisville roots.

“Kenny’s whole style is different,” said Russell, comparing him to what he left behind in Los Angeles. “He’s a workhorse, no shortcut-type guy, and he coaches like that. He gets the best out of you.”

That anonymity was enforced during the 10 weeks he sat while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, but he still wanted to be on the bench. He did the rehab behind the scenes and he liked the way the Nets arranged things for him. When he was in Brooklyn, he spent his time at HSS Training Center and when he went on the road with the team, he found clinics where he could train, helped by the team’s training staff.

“I was going to local clinics and stuff like that,” said Russell. “Doing rehab. Being with the team as much as possible. A lot of the times it was me on the side, doing my own individual workouts, trying to get up to speed. That was pretty much what my whole day consisted of every day, non-stop, five days a week. Give a lot of credit to the training staff.”

Now that he’s back and starting, the Nets and their fans are starting to see what DLo can do. Dowd writes: Over his first 12 games with the Nets, Russell had jumped out to a fast start at career-best paces, averaging 20.9 points and 5.7 assists per game, plus 4.7 rebounds. He returned to action with a 14-minute stint in a win over Miami on Jan. 19 and steadily escalated his minutes and contributions.

Since then, his productivity has been close to what he had been early. In 27 starts this season, D’Angelo Russell is averaging 18.6 points per game, 16.9 (and nearly 6 assists) since out of his post-recovering “minutes restriction.”

No to mention that triple-double, the Nets first since Terrence Williams on April 9, 2010.

Some fans may have been frustrated by the Nets patience, but not Russell. He sees it all as getting his rhythm back as well as his focus. It’s still happening.

“Trying to get that rhythm back, taking care of my body,” said Russell around the time he re-entered the starting lineup. “Just being better all-around, the boards, on the court, off the court, that’s been my main focus.”

His backcourt mate agrees.

“The first part of the season is more indicative of what type of player he is,” said Spencer Dinwiddie shortly after Russell’s return. “When you miss, 40 games, 30 games something like that, you’re going to have some of that up and down because you’re trying to find yourself, find your rhythm. The team has been run in a certain way in your absence, because it had to, and now the team has to adjust.

“It wasn’t like it was a two-game thing, it was half the season. All of that is, it’s a growth process. It’s something that he’s going through and we’re all going through. But you can’t get worse by adding more talent. We look forward to finding that balance and him finding his rhythm completely.”