The Golden State Warriors will look like a different team in 2019. Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala have both moved on to different teams, and Klay Thompson will miss a majority of the regular season after an injury in the NBA Finals. The Warriors don’t lack talent, however, after executing a sign-and-trade deal to land Brooklyn Nets All-star guard D’Angelo Russell. We are going to look at how much of an impact Russell can have on the Warriors, and determine when we should expect to see him on the trading block.
Russell’s career in Los Angeles
After getting drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, everyone expected D’Angelo Russell to be the Lakers dynamic point guard of the future. As a rookie, Russell averaged 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists per game while shooting 35% from behind the arc.
Chemistry issues with other teammates led to him getting shipped out to Brooklyn after two seasons.
An All-Star in Brooklyn
Russell shined in Brooklyn, and he turned into the player everyone predicted he could be. The Nets have quietly built a strong foundation focused around player development, so it comes to us as no surprise that Russell earned his first All-Star birth during the 2018-19 season. He averaged 21 points and seven assists per game for the Nets while leading them to the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Heading to the Bay Area
The deal with the Warriors was one of the richest contracts of the free agency period. He signed a four-year deal worth $117 million and is setting himself up to be the team’s combo guard in the absence of Klay Thompson. The Warriors didn’t have a lot of cap space to make the trade evenly, so they needed to ship Andre Iguodala to Memphis to balance out the money in the deal.
How he fits in with Stephen Curry
For the last past decade, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry have been the premier backcourt pair of the NBA, winning three championships and appearing in five consecutive NBA Finals. Adding D’Angelo Russell to the backcourt reminds us of when Curry was drafted and played alongside Monta Ellis.
We think this will work out a lot better than that did for Curry, as Russell is an unselfish player who doesn’t have to always worry about getting the last shot. He should ease the burden of scoring off of Steph Curry in the fourth quarter. Many predicted Curry would have to average about 50 points per game this season without another viable scoring option in the lineup, but that’s not the case now.
What to expect from the Warriors
When Kevin Durant went down with his calf injury in the first round of the playoffs this season, Draymond Green turned back into the Draymond Green we all know. He can be a triple-double waiting to happen if given the opportunity to control the offense in different spurts, so we expect his playmaking ability to fit in very nicely with Russell’s ability to attack the basket.
The Warriors will have a tough time staying in the top four of the Western Conference with so many new super teams, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see them win 50 games.
So how many Warriors’ wins will D’Angelo Russell contribute to? We don’t expect the Warriors to move him until the trade deadline of his second season with the team at the earliest. We have a strong feeling he will be able to mesh well with Klay Thompson and Steph Curry in the backcourt, and that could make the Warriors a championship contender for 2020.