Wealth of Wolves Talent Should Push D’Angelo Russell to New Heights
After being courted by teams across the NBA, including an awkward helicopter ride over LA with new Minnesota Timberwolves PoBO, Gersson Rosas, D’Angelo Russell signed a max contract with the Golden State Warriors before the 2019-20 season. Both sides knew it wasn’t a long-term fit but Oakland seemed like a perfect stop-gap for D-Lo, given the circumstances.
Russell was getting a chance to play for a championship organization and a backcourt that included Steph Curry. The Warriors were getting an all-star to fill in for Klay Thompson while he recovered from a torn ACL that he suffered in the 2018-19 NBA Finals.
Hold the Curry…
Steph Curry broke his hand just four games into the experiment and Russell was without a backcourt partner again. He’d go on to average 23.6 points (career high), 6.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 33 games with the Warriors. Then, he was traded to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins.
Owning the backcourt like he was forced to in Golden State, wasn’t all that new to D-Lo. He played with an old Kobe Bryant in his rookie year, but we all heard how that went. He played with some talented youngsters during his stint with Brooklyn and that bore all-star fruit.
But 2020-21 will be the first time in his career that D’Angelo Russell will be surrounded by talent in the backcourt, along with a superstar big man. Russell was an all-Star and a top-50 player before he got to Minnesota. His game could reach a whole new level on this team, where he will still be one of two primary scorers, but is also surrounded by budding offensive talents.
Here are the guards Russell has played with throughout his career:
- 2015/16: Old Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson.
- 2016/17: Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson
- 2017/18: Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe
- 2018/19: Caris LeVert and Joe Harris
- 2019/20: Alec Burks and Glen Robinson III
If Caris LeVert and Joe Harris can help raise D-Lo’s game to an all-star level, what can he do playing next to Ricky Rubio, Malik Beasley, and Anthony Edwards? Rubio can run the offense when he’s on the floor and will help take pressure off D-Lo’s ball-handling responsibilities. Beasley and Edwards scoring abilities should draw plenty of attention from opposing defenses, too, leaving better scoring opportunities for Russell.
Oh, and the Wolves have a guy named Karl-Anthony Towns, who is D’Angelo’s best friend and is easily the best big man he’s ever played with. Honestly, it’s not even close. We’re talking about Roy Hibbert, Timofey Mozgov, and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Wolves’ biggest weak spot entering the season is power forward, but whoever plays there could be second-best NBA big man to ever play with D-Lo. How absurd is that?
“Pieces are in place”
This is the most talented roster D’Angelo Russell has ever played with and, by far, the best co-super star. That’s on top of a Minnesota Timberwolves organization that has embraced him and featured him like none of his previous stops. They’re building an entire roster and future around him.
I expect Russell’s confidence, performance and statistics to replicate the level of comfort he seems to be feeling with the Wolves. D-Lo has averaged 17.5 points and 6.3 assists during a roller-coaster career. This is a really good player who finally has some stability in a long-term home with a team that wants him around.
Those numbers are going to explode and D’Angelo Russell is going to find a whole new level with Karl-Anthony Towns right by his side. It’s going to be a ton of fun watch.
Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan