While in the midst of his best month of his career, D’Angelo Russell has proven it’s time for the Brooklyn Nets to see him as the future of the franchise.
Imagining a backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert for the next decade should get Brooklyn Nets fans excited.
In nine games this month, Russell is averaging 23.2 points, 7.4 assists per game, 3,7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, all while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range.
While it’s only been a half of a month of greatness from Russell, the past stretch of 10 games have not been easy games. With games against the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans, Russell has shown he’s willing to show up in the big games.
With Spencer Dinwiddie getting more attention from defenses, he hit a shooting slump recently and Russell was there to pick up most of the offensive responsibilities.
Russell has clearly done a fine job as the Nets have held on to a playoff spot while defenses pay more attention to Dinwiddie.
The Nets have also been battling a ton of injuries, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe and Jared Dudley missing time recently and LeVert has missed more than two months.
It’s time for the Nets to fully commit to Russell as a main piece down the stretch of games, even when his shot may not be falling. His offensive prowess makes defenses key on him, opening up shots for other players on the floor.
The one caveat somebody may have on Russell is his “carelessness” with the ball late in games, but being just 22 years old, Russell will have time to learn ball security and defensive schemes late in games.
Russell enters this offseason as a restricted free agent and it would be awful for the Nets to allow a team to sign him before they can.
Even in restricted free agency, it seems as if when a team just matches a contract given to their free agent by another team, the relationship that player has with his original team can be fractured.
The Nets shouldn’t risk this because Russell should be a mainstay in Brooklyn. Russell becoming an All-Star caliber player has made the 2017 deal with the Los Angeles Lakers look like a steal for Brooklyn and that’s not something you should let walk out the door.
It’s time for the Nets to show real commitment to their young core and make sure they are able to retain Russell for the future.