The Brooklyn Nets have become a better basketball team under coach Kenny Atkinson. They are more competitive and this season they will actual keep their draft pick if they are in the lottery. There is no true All-Star on the roster but all eyes will be on former number two pick D’Angelo Russell.
Russell’s first season with the Nets was filled with injuries. He was limited to just 48 games and he started 35. At 22 years old the verdict is still out on whether Russell will turn into a quality starting guard in the league. He has flashes where he looks like he’s turned the corner and understands the game better but then he faces an injury which sets him back.
In the 12 games he played before his surgery, Russell put up decent scoring numbers for the Nets. He had six 20 point games and two 30 point games. He recorded a double-double in his 3rd game of the season, the fastest he’s accomplished that in his career. It may not seem like a big deal but Russell didn’t have any 10 assist games as a rookie and it took him 35 games to do it in 2016.
Russell can’t afford to start slow this season. In his absence last season Spencer Dinwiddie stepped in and played well for the Nets. He gained confidence and he will put pressure on Russell to play better to keep his job.
In his first two seasons in the league Russell shot 35% from 3-point range. Last season he shot 32%. He has the tools to be a very good 3-point shooter and he can shoot it well off the dribble and as a catch and shoot player. If he can get back to 35%, it may be a productive season for him. He has to do a better job of attacking off the catch and finishing in the lane. His 41% shooting can be improved.
Health will play a big part to see if Russell can reach his potential this season. Again he’s only 22 years old and has time to grow but this Nets team is slowly getting more competitive and if he struggles he might not be around for the long haul.