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D’Angelo Russell could be on his way to becoming the face of the Brooklyn Nets

Russell ExcuseMonsiuer via Flickr


The Rise of D’Angelo Russell

Brooklyn may not be so bad for third-year guard D’Angelo Russell. The 2nd round draft pick from the 2015 NBA draft has had an interesting introduction to the NBA.

The 6-foot-5 guard was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. The 21-year-old was destined to be the face of the franchise until he filmed his former teammate Nick Young admitting that he cheated on his former fiancée Iggy Azalea.

After the former Ohio State guard “accidentally” leaked the footage his Laker teammates shut him out. Russell apologized to Young, but the damage was already done.

Prior to exposing his former teammate, the former Buckeye displayed flashes of his potential. However, his defining moments seem to occur when the team was getting blown out with the exception of a few game winners.

Growing Pains

L.A could have been a great place for the guard to grow considering the direction that the franchise is going in. During the spring of 2016, Laker management hired Luke Walton to be their 25th head coach in franchise history.

In 2015, Walton won his first championship as a coach with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors built their team around a young core of players. (This led to Walton’s arrival in LA)

During the guards rookie year, he averaged 13.2 points, 3.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game, which is decent for a rookie. Let’s not forget the coach at the time was Byron Scott, who isn’t really the best candidate for a rebuilding phase.

As time went on during the 2015-16 season it was clear that the team could not recover from the rookie’s mistake. At the end of the 2016-17 season, the Kentucky native averaged 15.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game which is a slight improvement from the previous season.

The Lakers coaching staff struggled to find a line-up that worked after the Kobe Bryant final tour concluded. Throughout the 2016-17 season, the backcourt featured multiple combinations with D’Angelo Russell, Jose Calderon, Jordan Clarkson, Corey Brewer and Lue Williams.

New Direction

Although Russell produced solid numbers the team finished with a 26-56 record. The team lacked consistency on the offensive and defensive end.

February 21st the Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss decided to hire Hall of Famer Magic Johnson as the president of basketball operations.  When you think of Magic, you instantly think of one of the best if not the best point guard of all time.

The 5-time champion was the captain of the Showtime Lakers. Whatever team Johnson is a part of you better believe they will have a point guard that leads, distributes and facilitates the offense.

Now I know what you are probably thinking. Magic should have kept D’Angelo and that he could have molded the left-handed guard.

With the conclusion of the Black Mamba era, the team entered the 2017 NBA draft with the second-overall-pick. Fans, critics, and analyst knew that Lonzo Ball was going to be drafted by the Lakers.

The former UCLA Bruin made it clear that he wanted to be drafted by the historic franchise. With Johnson as the new president of basketball operations, it was safe to say that anything could happen.

On May 23rd Russell hit like on a “shady” tweet that questioned why the franchise would draft Ball after the season that the former Buckeye had.

Brooklyn Style

To no one’s surprise, Los Angeles drafted Ball with the 2nd pick in the 2017 draft. The following day the Lakers struck a deal with the Nets that would send D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn.

After the trade Johnson explained why the team decided to sign off on the trade and move forward with Ball.

“We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also who can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with,” Johnson said.

Being traded to Brooklyn could be a blessing in disguise for the former Laker. Russell will be the starting guard and could ultimately be the face of the franchise. (Long shot but possible)

This season the 21-year-old guard is averaging 23 points, 5.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds. Although both teams are rebuilding, Brooklyn’s roster has a slight advantage.

Brooklyn’s current roster contains D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Timofey Mozgov, Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, Tyler Zeller, Trevor Booker and Quincy Acy.

In addition to the first and second line-up, the team has Joe Harris, Isaiah Whitehead, Jarret Allen and Jeremy Lin. (Assuming he makes a full recovery from his ruptured patella tendon).

With the current rebuilding process expect to see the third-year-guard elevate his game to the next level.

The former Ohio State guard has the green light to score and has led the team in points thus far.

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram to talk sports at @Zack_Rogers5

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