D’Angelo Russell will play a pivotal role in helping Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors this season.
Before acquiring D’Angelo Russell via sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, the Golden State Warriors were on the brink of destruction. The massive loss of Kevin Durant was sure to have an enormous impact on the entire team, with Stephen Curry taking the brunt of the damage.
Normally, losing Durant wouldn’t have put the Warriors in such a bad position. Still remaining on the roster is the original big three of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. As we all know, this trio was capable of accomplishing more than enough before KD.
The only problem here is that Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Without Thompson for a majority of the regular season, the Dubs faced a scary future in which Curry would have to carry a gigantic offensive load.
Playing without any of his offensively gifted teammates, Curry would be facing a similar situation to that of Russell Westbrook in the 2016-17 season. This was the season following Durant’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder, forcing Westbrook to do it all on his own and rack up an NBA record usage rate of 41.7 percent.
While Curry is certainly capable of putting up fantastic numbers on high volume, it is probably best that the 31-year-old star isn’t asked to mount the entire weight of the franchise on his shoulders. There is no scenario in which that would benefit the franchise in the long run.
This is why the Warriors front office deserves an endless amount of credit for managing to bring in Russell. Despite not being the most ideal fit, this young All-Star is going to save the franchise simply by being on the floor.
Many may think that running Curry and D-Lo together could lead to a ton of problems. Most notably, the team’s perimeter defense will be vulnerable with two subpar defenders in the backcourt.
However, the Warriors will absolutely have to play these two together to avoid one thing: box-and-one defense.
We saw how deadly this defensive scheme can be when the Warriors have no other scoring options on the floor next to Curry. In last year’s NBA Finals, the Toronto Raptors executed a box-and-one defense to perfection, forcing the two-time MVP to cough up the ball at every turn.
With Russell on the floor, it will be impossible for an opponent to load up on Curry. Though D-Lo isn’t an elite scorer, his career-high averages of 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game last year lend us to believe that he is skilled enough to make a questionable defense pay.
The addition of Russell not only adds youth to the Warriors roster but it brings a much-needed second-fiddle for Curry to run with as they await Thompson’s return.