2. Russell just wasn’t feeling it
D’Angelo Russell continues to be a conundrum and Saturday night was one of those games where it just seemed he was disconnected and disinterested.
He finished with 12 points in 31 minutes, but was 5-of-16 from the floor. Russell had seven assists and six rebounds, but all three of his turnovers were of the worst possible variety for an NBA point guard — careless plays that triggered break opportunities the other way.
Players are going to have up nights and down nights; that’s just the nature of the business.
But Russell is a fourth-year veteran now and he still makes rookie mistakes with the ball — sometimes telegraphing looks and other times just appearing to be unaware that danger is nearby.
After an offseason of discussion about whether he was the point guard of the future for the Brooklyn Nets, there have already been times in the first three games where it doesn’t appear that Russell should be the point guard of the present.
The frustrating part of it is that he has these stretches where he is so very good — calm, in total control, everything seeming to move in slow motion for him. But those are followed by periods where he just seems out of phase with everything around him on the offensive end.
Passes are lazy, tossed without regard to defensive pressure in the route of the pass. The offense stagnates at time because he pounds the ball into the floor 35 feet from the rim for 10-12 seconds at a time.
If he’s going to step up as the leader on the floor for this team, Russell has to — at the very least — appear to be engaged.
When he is, things flow well. When he isn’t. the offense disintegrates into a jumble of forced shots late in the clock, disrupted flow because of off-target passing or outright giveaways.
Not every mistake is on Russell. But part of the point guard’s responsibility is to make sure everyone is seeing the same things and reading the defense the same way. Russell still falls short in that regard too often.