Height : 6’5
Weight : 195 lbs
D’Angelo Russell is considered a top-5 pick in this years NBA Draft by nearly every sports site, and rightfully so. Arriving to Ohio State as the 13th rated recruit in the 2014 recruiting class, Russell was identified as an elite player from an early age. However, it is safe to say that Russell exceeded all expectations placed on him in his one and only season in Columbus. Ohio State enjoyed a fair amount of success last season, which was largely in part to Russell’s production. A spectacular freshman season which saw Russell average 19 points, five assists, and nearly six rebounds per game, vaulted Russell into NBA draft conversations. Equipped with excellent size, positional versatility, and an elite offensive game, Russell looks to have a very bright future ahead of him.
One of Russell’s biggest appeals is the size he brings to the backcourt. With the size of a shooting guard and playmaking ability of a point guard, Russell has the potential to be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. Standing at 6’5″ and a wingspan of 6’10”, Russell can use his size and length to defend along the perimeter and get to the basket. Weighing in at 195 pounds means his frame is awfully slender, but at 19 years old it is safe to assume Russell will have no problem adding to his frame.
Russell was an elite scorer in college, and led all freshman in points per game. Not only could Russell score in bunches, but he was very efficient while doing so. Russell shot 45 percent from the field as a freshman, including 41 percent from the three-point line. This marksmanship from behind the arc should carry over well to the three-point happy NBA style of play. He also got to the free-throw line nearly five times per game, making 75 percent of his attempts. Russell’s willingness to get to the rim and attack the basket will be very valuable, and his long frame should help him finish at the rim. In a time when many NBA draft prospects are athletically gifted but raw offensively, Russell is breaking the mold. He is one of the most offensively developed players in the draft, and should be able to contribute as a scorer immediately in the NBA.
There has been some debate as to whether Russell is a point guard or shooting guard, but frankly it doesn’t really matter. Russell is an elite playmaker and even as the primary offensive weapon he averaged five assists per game in college. Whether he ends up playing point or two-guard problem depends on which team drafts him, but regardless his playmaking ability will be one of his greatest assets. He has the skill to take over as a teams primary playmaker but can also serve as a playmaking two-guard. Russell’s ability to play multiple positions, score at ease, and make plays for his teammates will help him succeed immediately at the NBA level.
It is hard to find a weakness when watching Russell, he is an elite scorer and playmaker with plenty of size to play either backcourt position. The one biggest knock on Russell is his lack of top-end athleticism. Russell is by no means pedestrian in terms of his athleticism, but he won’t be jumping out of the gym. His length and size should help him make up for a lack of athleticism on the defensive end, but it definitely limits his two-way potential. Russell’s thin frame and lack of pure athleticism will cause him to struggle when finishing at the rim, especially at the NBA level. Russell did struggle with turnovers, as he averaged nearly three turnovers per game. These turnovers can partly be attributed to the fact that Russell was the primary playmaker and scorer in college, maximizing his usage.
Fit with Kings
The Kings don’t have a giant need at either guard position, but Russell would still be a terrific addition. His ability to play point or play off-ball with Darren Collison would be very valuable for the Kings. Russell’s strengths, shooting and playmaking ability, would perfectly fill some of the Kings biggest needs. While his addition would not help the defense much, his ability to spread the floor and set up shooters such as Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas.
Draft Position: Top 5
Russell is an elite scorer and he should be able to add immediate offense to whomever is lucky enough to draft him. He is also an impressive playmaker and that is one aspect of his game that should improve once he enters the league. His great size should help create matchups on both sides on the floor, but his slender frame and lack of elite athleticism may hurt his overall potential. Regardless of his weaknesses, Russell is a relatively safe pick, as just about any team could use a 6’5″ guard capable of scoring from behind the arc and playing plays for his teammates.
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