One major change that will happen to the Golden State Warriors this season is their defense. Usually a potent defensive team, the Dubs have lost a lot of what made their defense so strong.
Of course, Draymond Green is still there to hold things down. But, with Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala both gone, as well as Klay Thompson nurturing an ACL injury, the Dubs are more exposed than ever.
Sadly, D’Angelo Russell likely won’t fix this problem. While he did average 1.2 steals per game last season, he is far from an elite defender.
Let’s start with the positive:
In this clip, we can see how Russell anticipates the pass and even does a great job of hiding behind Javle McGee to surprise the offense with a burst of speed to intercept the pass. Obviously, his speed wasn’t enough as he had his layup attempt obliterated by LeBron James, but it’s the thought that counts.
It goes without saying that his tendency to jump the passing lane can be an issue at times. This type of move is always a gamble and more often than not, it results in him getting burned.
Still, there is a more concerning aspect to Russell’s defense:
He is absolutely awful at fighting through screens. All it takes is one simple screen to thwart Russell away from his man and put the defense on its heels. This can be blamed on his skinny frame, but it is also due to his lack of energy attempting to get through the pick.
The Warriors will have to be careful about which lineups they run this season. Russell is certainly a good offensive player, but will he prove to be too much of a defensive liability?