What’s been equally clear in the second chapter of Russell’s young career is the relative success he’s enjoyed early on with Kenny Atkinson’s Nets.
In his third year, Brooklyn’s guard is averaging 21.7 points in 26.4 minutes per game on a drastically improved 46.6 percent shooting from the field. He also has five assists and four rebounds a night, giving him better numbers on more efficient shooting in fewer minutes than he played in Los Angeles.
That points to an improved basketball player in an environment suitable to his talents.
The Nets guard makes his return to Staples Center to take on the Lakers for the first time as an opponent on Friday night. Russell’s been nonchalant about his return, downplaying the matchup to The New York Post’s Alex Squadron as merely the “first game on a long road trip.”
But if anything has been far from nonchalant, it’s his game in Brooklyn’s pace-and-space offense. And if you haven’t been paying attention to the 3-5 Nets this season, their new floor general has been a joy to watch.
Russell made Jonathan Isaac touch Earth
D'Angelo Russell welcomes Jonathan Isaac to the NBA by putting him on skates. pic.twitter.com/8XyAwMHW1M
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 21, 2017
He broke down Mike James, too
D'Angelo Russell with the crossover and he cashes the jumper 👌 pic.twitter.com/Z0ErjiHhhC
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) October 31, 2017
The Nets — though sitting at a 3-5 record riding a three-game losing streak — look like a revitalized franchise with an injection of fresh, young blood in the form of their new point guard. And even though he’s not losing sleep over Magic’s comments, Russell said he thinks he’s gotten better over the summer, and that he “definitely [wants] to go in [to Los Angeles it] and showcase that.”
The numbers definitely prove it. And on Friday, Russell will walk back into Staples Center in an attempt to show Los Angeles he doesn’t need to talk.
His play can do the talking for him.