D’Angelo Russell is a point guard/shooting guard from Ohio State University. Russell is 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan. For the year, Russell averaged 33.9 minutes per game, 19.3 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, 5.0 assists per game, 1.6 steals per game, while shooting 44.9% from the field, and 41.1% from three.
- Amazing ball handling skills
- High basketball IQ
- Great court vision
- Great poise
- Length to disrupt passing lanes
- Quick, smooth shot
- Excellent three point shooter
- Great at the pick-and-roll
- Not a great athlete
- Lacks defensive intensity
- Needs to improve consistency from mid-range
- Needs to add strength
- Can be turn-over prone
- Needs improvement in transition offense
Russell is a unique prospect in the ways that he is already a player capable of coming into the NBA and being a good player; yet has the intangibles to become a year after year All-Star. Russell possess a shot that is quick, yet smooth, allowing for him to get his shot off in a multitude of ways. Although Russell needs to improve on creating his own transition offense, his ability to read the court and find his teammates allows for him to cover this weakness a little better than most. With improved strength, mainly to the lower body, to help with explosiveness, Russell could become dominant in transition. Russell thrives in pick-and-roll situations, as he can spot-up and hit an open three. If he can not get an open look this way, Russell can use his amazing ball handling skills to crossover or fake out his defender to get them off balance and drive by them. On the defensive side of the ball, Russell lacks the intensity to be elite on that side of the court. Russell possess great length, which he uses to pickpocket opponents and disrupt passing lanes. This length comes in handy as a cover-up for his lack of elite speed and athleticism. Overall, Russell is a top five prospect for the 2015 NBA draft, who is looked at for his offensive potential. With questions to rather he has to ability to be a point guard or he is a shooting guard, Russell possess the ball handling skills and vision to lead a team from the point, and the stroke to be the main offensive weapon. Russell will be drafted in the top five, with the Philadelphia 76ers being the team most enamored with Russell.
Comparing a college player to a potential MVP is very difficult because it creates lofty expectations for a prospect, who’s game at the professional level is unknown. With that being said, Russell’s game is built on offense, much like Harden’s. Harden and Russell have a great feel for the game and know when to be the prime ball handlers for their teams, and when to shoulder the scoring load with their lights out shooting. When ball handling was discussed for Harden, the words “crafty” and “creative” were most often used. These same words are now used to describe Russell and his handle. They also share the same dynamic skills that they use to shake defenders and create more open space for them to get their shot off. Vision and play making ability is what makes these two players so deadly, whether it be for their own offense or for finding their teammates to make a play. Maturity was never an issue for either of these players as they were very poised and great leaders for their teams. Harden is better at getting to the line than Russell is, but with coaching at the professional level and film watching of Harden, Russell should be able to replicate Harden’s game and become another offensive star for the league. Defensively, neither of these players care to much for it. Harden did improve during this past season and with that most criticism died off and his team as a whole improved. Russell, with the right coaching and teammates motivating him has the length to be a nuisance in the passing lanes defensively, allowing for him to create some transition offense. Russell has the skills, poise, and potential to be the next James Harden and with the right offensive scheme he should not take long to becoming the next great scoring machine like Harden.
By: Mac Crowe @Mac_Truck17