Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell won’t play anymore this season with backcourt starter Jeremy Lin, who suffered a patellar tendon rupture.
Lin, who was injured Wednesday night, will reportedly miss the whole year for the Nets. It’s unclear how Brooklyn plans to reassemble its starting lineup, though current players who can add depth include Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Isaiah Whitehead.
Lin was an essential player for this roster, but it won’t be too hard to change the starters. Russell can play point guard with Allen Crabbe at the shooting guard to make room for Hollis-Jefferson at small forward.
If the team decides to have Russell play point guard, they can plug LeVert in the backcourt. Or if they keep Russell at the shooting guard position, it seems likely that Whitehead will take over as the starting point guard.
NBA analyst Tommy Beer noted that Lin led his team in scoring average, assists, steals, PER and win shares per 48 minutes last season.
Thankfully in his first regular-season appearance for the Nets, Russell scored 30 points and proved he’s capable of leading an offense. He shot 54.5 percent from the field, much better than his career-average of 40.9 percent. He also added five assists and three rebounds during his thirty minutes of action.
Perhaps what’s most noteworthy is how often he shot the ball. He had 22 attempts (including eight from long distance) which is worth mentioning because he shot more than 20 times in just six games last year.
However, he averaged 26.5 points and 8.2 assists per 100 possessions last season. The other two players who recorded such production as 20-year-olds are LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
In a preseason game against the rival Knicks, he looked smooth as ever with a block on defense that led to him scoring in a transition offense. Russell recently spoke with Zach Lowe in an interview about being a two-way player (via ESPN):
“I wanted to play defense in L.A., but I felt like I had to score every chance I got for us to be relevant.”
This new role is not a surprise for those who watched him during the preseason when Russell often looked impressive. Now with increased usage without Lin, those numbers will continue to improve.
Per 36 minutes, he averaged 25.7 points with six assists and 3.4 steals. Russell also scored 24 points in 24 minutes against the 76ers in an earlier preseason effort.
If he continues at this pace, even though Lin will not return this season, Russell could become one of the most electrifying young players in the Eastern Conference. Even though whoever replaces Lin will not bring the same spark, they have options off the bench who can play valuable minutes.
DunkWire, Allen Crabbe, Brooklyn Nets, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Isaiah Whitehead, Jeremy Lin, Los Angeles Lakers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Isaiah Whitehead, Jeremy Lin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers