Statistically, D'Angelo Russell had a quality rookie season: 13.2 points per game, 3.3 assists per game, shot 35.1 percent from three, had a PER of 13.2. He was NBA All-Rookie second team, and he improved over the course of the season — his PER for the month of February was 18.8. Point guard is the hardest position to learn at the NBA level and Russell’s rookie numbers, especially during the last couple months, compare well with top point guards in the game now such as Damian Lillard, John Wall, even Kyrie Irving when they were rookies.
But then there were the downsides to Russell’s rookie season: Clashes with his coach, an ego big enough to trouble Lakers staff, and the video incident with Nick Young.
How would Russell describe his rookie season? He was honest with Rob Perez of Fox Sports.
“It was bad. It wasn’t the best rookie year. But, I had some big learning experience from it and coming into this year — I’m beyond excited.”
Russell looked like he had learned a lot while playing in Summer League for the Lakers where he averaged 21.8 points and 4 assists per game. He started to find some chemistry with just-drafted Brandon Ingram. He can lead a young Laker core that includes Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.
As he has before, Russell praised new Laker coach Luke Walton, who told the young guard not to be afraid to shoot.
“He wants me to shoot the ball when I’m open. When a coach tells you to shoot the ball, it’s like a green light for you. You can’t want that more than anything. But the catch is you got to be good enough to know that when you’re not open, you gotta pass. That’s the responsibility he’s thrown at me and everybody.”
If Russell has taken these lessons to heart and listens to his new coach, Lakers fans should be optimistic about the future.
The Philadelphia Eagles are an unstoppable football force. At least when they play the Browns.
Philadelphia won its opener 29-10 Sunday at home, and on hand for the festivities were the two Sixers big men who will take the court in a few weeks, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid posted a picture of the pair hanging with Swoop — notice Embiid’s Swoop hat.
Way to get in a process reference. Not to mention Harambe.
Ben Simmons posted a picture with what we assume he thought was the best part of the day.
The pair also hung out a little with coach Brett Brown, who has grown the John Stewart beard. The duo dwarfs him. Brown is not short by normal human standards, for the record.
Allen Iverson’s Hall of Fame entrance speech was so much like Iverson’s playing career — emotional, unrehearsed, raw, and absolutely must watch.
Now take a quick look back at the career that landed him in the HOF, this was the introductory video to him entering the hall.
Shaquille O’Neal is officially in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. His speech upon entering was vintage Shaq.
Take a break from watching your fantasy football team play like manure to check out the highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s career. This was the video used to introduce him at the HOF ceremony.
In theory, the slashing style of John Wall and the outside shooting of Bradley Beal should make them an exceptional backcourt. Except they’ve never clicked like one would expect. Injuries have certainly been a part of that, but Wall has admitted he and Beal don’t like each other on the court at times. Now with both Wall and Beal locked into long-term deals, how well those two play off each other will go a long way in determining how good these Wizards can be.
New coach Scott Brooks says this chemistry thing is overrated, as he told the Washington Post.
“Two things I noticed about both of them: They’re very competitive, and they care about their teammates. When you have those two qualities, you will never have problems with me as the coach and you’ll never have problems with your teammates,” Brooks said. “With that being said, they’re like brothers, and you’re going to have arguments. If you don’t have an argument as an NBA team, that’s odd.”
That’s been the spin for a while, “they’re just two alphas and of course they clash.” Brooks came from a team where two big stars — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — had their feuds based on ego. The difference is in Oklahoma City those two showed from the start they could win and win big together. Durant and Westbrook had their difference — and now really have their differences — but on the court, they had enough chemistry to make the Thunder a force.
Wall and Beal have shown none of that.
Brooks has tried to pump up the Wall/Beal pairing before, saying they could be the best two-way backcourt in the NBA if they were healthy and on the same page. (Not so sure about that, Klay Thompson is a good defender and Curry is solid on that end, but that’s another discussion.) Brooks was brought in to modernize the offense and get those two guards clicking, and he’s trying to build them up. We’ll see how that goes.
It just feels like this year’s version is the same old Wizards. Wall and Beal are the only ones who can change that.