The Warriors acquired 23-year-old guard D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade transaction with the Brooklyn Nets at the beginning of free agency this offseason. Russell, the second overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, brings extra scoring to the Dubs, something the team will need with Kevin Durant now in Brooklyn and Klay Thompson out indefinitely.
Head Coach Steve Kerr has already expressed his excitement regarding the addition of Russell during a July interview with KNBR: “I think he’s going to be great. First, just having a guy who can get you 20 points a night — especially with Klay out for most of the regular season — that’s a huge luxury.”
Russell has not waited to join his new teammates in preparing for the season, nor been shy about sharing the work he’s put in, either. He put-in time with Dubs’ Player Development Coach Steve Nash, and joined backcourt-mate Stephen Curry for workouts, too. In both instances, Russell added the pictures to his Instagram with the simple message: “Got better today.”
Russell was also in the gym working with another teammate in Draymond Green last month. The duo shot-around and even ran a few pick-plays together.
Russell’s hard work produced sizable statistical improvement last season while with the Nets: he averaged career highs in points (21.1), field goal percentage (43.4), three-pointers made (2.9), three-point percentage (36.9), and assists (7.0) to go with 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. The break-out performance netted the fourth-year player his first-ever selection as an NBA All-Star.
Though the Dubs have been known as a three-point shooting team during their recent NBA Finals runs — the squad has been in the top five teams in three-point shots made in four of the last five seasons — Russell has been featured in more pick-and-roll plays with his previous teams.
That may bring some changes to how the Warriors play or what is asked of the young veteran, but Russell is confident in the Dubs’ staff and their ability to adapt: “I think this is a prime example of an organization and a system offensively that takes advantage and maximizes each individual player. [The Warriors] have done a great job of adapting any player that comes to their roster. So, I’m not worried at all about what style of play I’ll have to adapt to, I know it’s going to be special,” he said in an on-air interview during the Dubs’ Summer League game on July 8.
Among the other new Dubs on the roster is center Willie Cauley-Stein, who comes from a similar system with the Sacramento Kings as Russell in Brooklyn. He too acknowledged the change in play to media on July 8, but looks forward to what that means for the Dubs: “It’s going to be interesting… they’re adding me and D-Lo, two big pick-and-roll players, they’re obviously going to have to change how we play just a little bit, but that’s exciting because the spacing on there is going to be crazy.”
Besides the adaptations the team will go through early in the season, more adjustments will come later as well with the return of Klay Thompson.
Leave it to Kerr to eliminate questions and concerns Dub Nation may have about Russell, Curry, and Thompson playing together: “When Klay comes back, I would imagine all three of them would start… I don’t think we’ll have a problem,” he told KNBR.