In the past year no college player has climbed up the boards faster than D’Angelo Russell. Coming out of High School, Russell barely cracked the top 30 recruits in the nation, but after just one season at Ohio State, Russell has now become the best guard in the country. D’Angelo was a walking highlight reel during his freshmen year, winning the Jerry West Award after showcasing savvy ball handling and amazing passes that defy the laws of physics. The kid exudes a confidence that borders on arrogance, but does he have what it takes to keep that swagger on the next level?
The word “tweener” is usually a negative word in NBA circles. It means that you don’t have a true defined position on the court. Sometimes it can be difficult for a coach to put a tweener in the starting line up, because it can often mess up the 5-on-5 chemistry of an NBA team. Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis and OJ Mayo are all examples of guards who tween between both guard positions. Although they are all solid players on playoff teams they still lack the size to be legit shooting guards on most nights and also lack the vision to be a full time point guard.
It is important to note that being a tweener doesn’t necessarily mean you cant have a good NBA career, on the contrary, many players maximize their ability by playing beyond the rules of traditional positions. Take a guy like Charles Barkley for instance, who was stuck between Small Forward and Power Forward his whole career. Not having a “true” position on the court, Barkley still managed to have a huge impact in every game he played.
In order for D’Angelo Russell to follow in the footsteps of Sir. Charles he will have to work on his ability to defend both positions. If Russell can grow into a guard who can defend his backcourt assignments on a nightly basis he should develop into an All-Star caliber player….
The downside is “Defense” might be D’Angelo’s only weakness.
Defense: Russell isn’t the greatest athlete in the world, and he also doesn’t have amazing lateral quickness. Often times he seems down right uninterested in getting stops defensively. However that same exact analysis could’ve been said regarding Marc Gasol as a rookie. Marc Gasol has since went on to be one of the best Defensive players in basketball, even winning Defensive player of the Year in 2015.
The truth of the matter is 75% of defense comes down to heart, energy and the will power to overcome your opponent. We’ll see if Russell has these attributes when the season starts in October.
Offense: Russell is pretty much a perfect player on Offense. He can play off the ball and on the ball, he can play half court and full court, he can really fit in just about any offensive system because of his versatile ability. He is like a nice blend of Jason Kidd and OJ Mayo, having amazing court vision but can also shoot the ball from anywhere he chooses… He also has a ridiculous 6’9″ wingspan that makes him a legit threat going up against most any NBA guard.
When it comes to flash and style, D’Angelo Russell is in a league of his own. There is nothing wrong with confidence but the NBA will either make or break him. Playing against collegiate ametures is one thing, but that cocky attitude will be put to the test in the NBA.
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