The first day of the 2019 NBA free agency period was fast and furious. A number of players changed teams, which will alter the NBA landscape forever. One of those big moves was the Golden State Warriors‘ sign-and-trade deal to land Brooklyn Nets All-Star D’Angelo Russell.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Russell should provide some relief for Stephen Curry while Klay Thompson recovers from his torn ACL. Today, we look at what the acquisition means for the franchise and potential roster moves they can make to stay in title contention.
How the deal benefits Russell
Russell had his best NBA season in 2018, averaging 21 points and seven assists per game. The main option in Brooklyn, he helped the Nets land the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They lost the series in five games to the 76ers, but it was clear to fans that Russell has matured into the player he was expected to be coming out of Ohio State.
The 23-year-old joins a team with a championship pedigree that needs another scorer. After shooting nearly 37% from behind the arc, he could fit in well with Golden State’s offense.
How it benefits Stephen Curry
With Kevin Durant headed to Brooklyn, and Thompson healing from a torn ACL, Warriors fans expected Curry to shoulder a heavier burden on the offensive side of the floor. Arguably the greatest shooter in NBA history, the point guard will likely have another MVP-caliber season. Pairing him with a facilitator like Russell could give him more catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Can he play alongside the Splash Brothers?
Russell and Curry will get along fine in the backcourt. But it’ll be tricky to see how a lineup of Curry, Russell, and Thompson may look in the Western Conference playoffs. Thompson could return by April. If he can work off his game rust before the postseason, we could be looking at the team to beat in the West.
Slotting Thompson at the small forward position, Curry and Russell would be able to man the perimeter — a matchup nightmare for most teams. The only issue will be on defense, as neither Russell nor Curry are known as lockdown defenders. It will be harder for the defense to slow down a team’s second or third options.
What we can expect from Golden State next season
The media thought next season would be a lost year for the Warriors. But landing Russell puts them right back in the driver’s seat of the West. We will have to see how Russell and Warriors forward Draymond Green get along, as one of the driving forces behind Durant’s departure was Green telling him he wasn’t needed for Golden State to win a championship.
The Warriors will have a completely different roster next season. Andre Iguodala was shipped out to Memphis to clear up cap room for Russell. We still expect them to be a top-four team in the West, and they are still one of the favorites to reach the NBA Finals.