His weaknesses right now are turnover issues and defensive awareness, and I’m fully confident his shooting will improve with a player like Lin to get him the ball, keeping him from having to create everything.
NL: Do you think Russell will have a better opportunity for growth & stardom in Brooklyn as opposed to LA?
HF: Better opportunity for growth, possibly, at least in the sense of he gets a fresh start under a new coaching staff with the wake-up call of being traded. Stardom? I kind of doubt it. Unless he becomes a transcendent talent (which he very well could) I don’t see any way he becomes more relevant with the Nets than he would’ve been with the Lakers, no offense.
NL: Following a team as close as you do, you’ve got to have a few good Russell stories. What is one that sticks out to you?
HF: Probably the most amusing story I have about D’Angelo Russell was during his rookie season when he had finished his pregame shootaround and was attempting shots from his back at halfcourt and sunk one. He and the rest of the Lakers training staff went crazy and then he actually had a pretty good game that night:
NL: Kenny Atkinson has revolutionized the Nets’ offense in just one season with the motion offense. They finished sixth in 3PM, fourth in 3PA, and first in pace last season — all without Lin for a majority of the season. How do you think Russell fits into the system?
HF: One of the issues with Russell is that he does not like to push pace as much as his skillset would have you believe.
It was a clashing point last season with the coaching staff, but one would think this trade might be the splash of cold water he needs to get him to go with the flow a bit more, because with his ability to shoot off the dribble and off the catch I think he’d be a terror in transition if he gave it a real shot.
It’s important to remember he was having knee issues for much of last year as well, which could have made it harder on him to really get into the run and gun lifestyle.