The 2015 NBA Draft is just around the corner and few prospects have garnered intrigue such Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell. In his one and only year at Columbus, Russell left a huge imprint. He was the only player in the country to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds at a per 40 minutes pace (Per draftexpress.com).
Russell figures to be a surefire, top five pick come Thursday. At 6’5″ he is a hot commodity because of his ability to create his own shot, handle the ball and boast a respectable jump shot to keep defenders honest. It’s vital for young players to be drafted somewhere where the coach’s can utilize their best talents and coach them up in their problem areas. Landing in the wrong situation will surely lead you down “bust boulevard”.
So let’s explore the best landing spots for D’Angelo.
With the third overall pick this is Russell’s most likely landing spot in my opinion as well in the opinion of many others doing mock drafts. If Philly takes him he will likely be thrust into a lead guard position for coach Brett Brown’s squad. If that’s the case the learning curve for D’Angelo will be greater. Leading a young and inexperienced team as a rookie can provide it’s fair share of bumps in the road.
An exciting proposition for Philly fans would be the pick and roll game with Russell and big men Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid (if, and I mean if he ever suits up). Of course every effective pick and roll combination needs its shooters to space the floor and create driving and rolling lanes and that’s something the 76ers don’t have (ranked 29th last season in three point percentage at 32% per NBA.com). With that being said, the two young big guys (please play Joel, please!) and Russell could give the “City of Brotherly Love” a reason to smile.
Something else to note is that there is growing speculation that Russell might not even make it to pick number three because the Los Angeles Lakers at number two have expressed interest in Russell joining Kobe and the boys.
Now keep in mind I am listing the ideal landing spots from a basketball standpoint. Russell going at number six is a real long shot but I just thought of the combination of Russell and DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins and couldn’t resist speculating a bit. This combo in pick and rolls would be phenomenal. Russell is an incredible passer off the pick and roll which would create open shots for Boogie from 15 feet and chances under the bucket. I’m getting a little Shaq and Penny feel here.
Sacramento could also mix and match Russell with different back court partners. He could be with Darren Collison (or Ty Lawson if George Karl has his way) as an off guard or with Ben McLemore as the primary ball handler.
The Kings match well with Russell too because coach George Karl’s philosophy of uptempo offense and ball movement. Russell thrives in transition, keeping his head up to find open teammates. According to draftexpress.com, 60 of Russell’s 174 assists at Ohio State were in transition. Imagine the highlight lobs to Rudy Gay.
Oklahoma City Thunder
There’s a better chance that 50 Cent makes a joint album with Rick Ross but this in my opinion would be the ideal destination for Russell. OKC has the very last pick in the lottery at number 14
Picture this, a 6’5″ lefty that is a lights out scorer and exhibits wizard-like craftiness with the ball in his hand. If that sounds a little familiar that description fits those of former OKC great James Harden. Russell and harden share a lot of the same attributes.
Since Harden was traded out of OKC in 2013 the Thunder have struggled to find a legitimate third wheel to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (sorry Kevin Martin and Dion Waiters). Russell could fit in as the starting two guard that can run the point with the second unit or he could serve in the microwave sixth man that Harden did so effectively.
To add with this, new Thunder coach Billy Donovan runs the spread pick and roll, an offense that utilizes a lot of ball screens. Russell can be the primary handler or come off screens for open shots. His outside shot is effective enough that defenses will have to fight over screens to keep his space to a minimal.
Watch this video from bballbreakdown.com and tell me you couldn’t see Russell help take this team to the next level.
Proficient in running the pick and roll Not ultra-athletic
Keeps head up in transition Doesn’t use off hand much