Brooklyn Nets: Player grades from demolition of Kings

Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Treveon Graham. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Brooklyn Nets. D'ANGELO RUSSELL. A. 32 MIN, 31 PTS, 12-for-25 (7-for-14), 4 REB (1 ORB), 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, +28. PG

It’s hard to imagine D’Angelo Russell playing much better than he has in his last two games, where he has combined for 71 points, 15 assists and just one turnover.

Save for a couple of blown layups against the Sacramento Kings on Monday, the fourth-year Brooklyn Nets point guard was nearly flawless once again.

It was just the third game this season in which Russell has had no turnovers and it isn’t caused by a lack of aggressiveness. Instead, on Monday Russell was playing three-dimensional chess while the Kings were defensively playing checkers.

On this play, he had Treveon Graham open at the 3-point line, but he saw something that might be easier. He motioned for Graham to cut through and then hit a cutting Joe Harris, who found space in the lane for an easy score.

He also had a couple of pinpoint feeds to Rodions Kurucs and Shabazz Napier, who sprung free on cuts along the baseline from the weak side of the play.

Throw in his improved defense and Russell is having the breakout season he was hoping for.

30 MIN, 8 PTS, 2-for-3 (1-for-2), 3-for-4 FT, 5 REB (2 ORB), 3 AST, 2 PF, 1 STL, 2 TO, 1 BLK, +28. PF/SF. Brooklyn Nets. TREVEON GRAHAM. B+

Treveon Graham didn’t produce a lot of offense, but was very efficient when he got looks, both with knocking down shots and getting himself to the free throw line.

Defensively, Graham is bulky enough at 225 pounds to effectively defend 4s while being quick enough to cover 1-3 on the perimeter as well.

That level of defensive flexibility allows Brooklyn to do a lot of different things within their 2-3 matchup zone, sometimes playing Graham at the top to harass wings and other times dropping him onto the back line to bully cutters and penetrators inside.

Graham is getting more comfortable after a long absence (37 games) with a hamstring injury and is showing with his defense and unselfish play why coach Kenny Atkinson has been so high on him.