D'Angelo Russell Future Star

D’Angelo Russell Future Star?

When young players enter the NBA, fans expect them to become stars immediately. If at 19,20 or 21 years old they aren’t dominating the game, many people start to think of them as busts. The fact is they need time to gain experience in the professional game. It requires patience that many fans don’t have.

Players must go through the long, draining NBA regular seasons that last from October to April. These players are still kids barely out of college and usually aren’t ready for full NBA seasons until they have experienced a few.

One of the players often mentioned as not living up to his potential has only been in the NBA two seasons. That player is Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell.

Laker Nation

D'Angelo Russell Future Star

(Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org)

The Lakers’ fanbase is one of the most impatient in all of sports, but for good reason. The Lakers franchise was founded back in 1947 in Minneapolis and moved to Los Angeles in 1960. In their franchise’s illustrious history, the Lakers have played in 31 NBA Finals and captured 16 championships, which is second most all-time.

Los Angeles is used to great players and winning teams. The team has had some of the most legendary players in the history of the game like Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Winning is all the Lakers have ever known, which is why they have such an impatient fanbase. From the 1948-1949 season until the 2012-2013 season, the Lakers had only missed the playoffs five times. It is absolutely incredible to think about that level of consistency over six decades.

The recent Laker seasons have had nothing to do with winning. Over the past four seasons, including this one, the Lakers have gone 84-225. L.A. will miss the playoffs four consecutive seasons after this one. In their first 65 years, they missed the playoffs five times and are now about to miss the playoffs four straight. It is understandable that Laker fans are frustrated.

The departure of Kobe Bryant has left the Lakers searching for a star to carry the franchise. They do not have to look far for that star because they have already drafted him.

star Point Guards in their early years

D'Angelo Russell Future Star

(Photo Credit: http://sportige.com)

D’Angelo Russell, also known as D-Lo, is already off to a great start to his young career. Russell is going to be constantly overshadowed by Karl Anthony-Towns, who was the first overall pick in the same draft class.

Towns has gotten most of the attention due to his unbelievable play so far. However, Russell’s first two seasons in the NBA are right on par with some of the NBA’s star point guards.

To really understand the projection Russell’s career should take, we must look at how he compares to these star guards in their first two seasons in the NBA.

The first comparison will be to Damian Lillard. Lillard averaged 19.9 points, 6.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 37.2 minutes per game in his first two seasons . Lillard is one of the best guards in the league now and was off to a great start due to the high minutes he was playing.

The next comparison is MVP candidate Russell Westbrook. After two seasons in the league, Westbrook averaged 15.7 points, 6.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. Just as Lillard averaged high minutes, so did Westbrook with 33.4 minutes per game.

The last guard for comparison will be Wizards star John Wall. Wall averaged 16.4 points, 8.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. Wall’s minutes were right on par with Lillard’s as he averaged 37 minutes per game.

These three guards are all considered top guards and leaders of their respective teams. How close is D’Angelo Russell to following in their footsteps?

D’Angelo Russell: The Future Star

The first thing noticeable about how Russell stacks up with these other guards is in minutes played. D’Angelo Russell is playing far fewer minutes than the other guards mentioned above. Russell has averaged just under 28 minutes a game (27.8) in his first two seasons. Compared to Wall and Lillard, that is 10 minutes less per game.

D'Angelo Russell Future Star

(Gif Credit: http://thedoublescreen.com)

Considering he is playing far fewer minutes, his stats are still pretty similar to theirs.

This season, Russell is averaging 14.9 points, 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. Per 36 minutes, those numbers jump to 19.7 points, 6.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds. If Russell was playing more, he would be averaging around the same numbers as these stars were in their second seasons.

Along with the solid numbers, Russell has proven he can hit big shots. He has made the saying “ice in my veins” famous all because he pointed to his arm when he hit a clutch 3-pointer as you can see in the gif to the left.

Russell not only has the pressure of living up to the hype of the second overall pick in the draft, but also has to follow the legendary Kobe Bryant. He is taking over a franchise that for the last 20 seasons was led by a man who won five NBA Championships.

There is a long list of stars to live up to in Hollywood, but Russell just needs more time. He is just 21 years old, but the future looks bright. The current star point guards in the NBA were once doing exactly what he is doing now so be patient and don’t worry Lake Show. D’Angelo is on his way to becoming the next Laker star.

 

You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other great TGH writers along with Matthew!

“From Our Haus to Yours”

Death of Competition in the NBA

 Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I have been a fan of the NBA for all my life. There is a trend that has been happening over the last five to seven years that is starting to make me sick. That trend is the death of true competition.

Bill Russell versus Wilt Chamberlain. Celtics versus Lakers. Magic versus Bird. Bulls versus Pistons. Jordan versus the Bad Boys.

The NBA was built on great competition and rivalries. The game we now know and love grew from feuds and exciting rivalries between both players and teams. Fans became enamored by these clashes of legendary players and great teams. Rivalries are slowly dying in today’s NBA and I think there is a reason for it.

When one of the most popular players in NBA history decides to join his friends rather than beat them, he sets an example for the kids who grow up wanting to be like him. LeBron James and his friends are destroying the idea of rivalries and true competition with the way he first joined the Heat and is talking about it again with Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony.

I know what he wants. He wants to win. We all want to win. There is a fire that burns in us that causes us to hate losing.

I once heard a quote that said, “You have to hate losing, more than you love to win.”

I do hate losing. I hate not being better than someone at something. I know LeBron hates losing as well. He has to.

I grew up playing sports anytime I could. Football, baseball or basketball, you name it and I was outside in the neighborhood playing these sports. I loved playing with my friends. There was something even better than playing with my friends. Beating my friends was more satisfying. I felt like the games were more fun and more competitive. There was more at stake in my mind and heart: If I win I have the right to say I was better. I have the right to brag until the next time we played. If I lost I had to hear that I wasn’t better and my friend had the bragging rights. It makes you work harder because you don’t want to hear the smack talk. Nobody likes feeling like a loser.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were great friends and even better rivals. They loved competing against one another and never tried to play together in the NBA. They knew they could play together in the Olympics or in the offseason, but during the NBA season they went at each other with a hatred. It wasn’t hatred for each other, it was hatred for losing to your friend. Magic has been on the record saying that the competition with Larry Bird made him better and made him work harder. They each won some and lost some but had tremendous respect for one another and the fans were blessed with a great rivalry up until they retired.

Another example is Jordan trying to get past the Bad Boy Pistons.

He didn’t call up Magic or Bird and say, “Hey, we all keep losing to them let’s get together and beat them.”

No Michael Jordan decided to hit the gym and work extra hard because he was sick and tired of losing to the same team every year in the playoffs. He worked hard and finally was able to get over that hump and it led to six NBA championships and a legendary career.

Let’s fast forward to the past 10 years of the NBA where Kobe has begun to age and LeBron has become the face and draw of the NBA. The Celtics had Paul Pierce and signed Ray Allen. Along with those two stars they made a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire Kevin Garnett and form a championship caliber team. There are a lot of people who blame these three players for starting the “super team” trend, but it would have never happened without the trade that required the management to pull it off.

LeBron was then in the same situation as Jordan essentially. He spent years trying to get past the Celtics but couldn’t. Instead of doing what most competitors did he decided to quit on the Cavaliers and join a couple of his friends in Miami. Three free agents purposely decided that in order to win they had to all come together. Dwayne Wade was an All-Star and NBA champion, Chris Bosh was an All-Star and the franchise star of the Toronto Raptors, and we all know LeBron was an All-Star and the superstar of Cleveland and the NBA. You had three really good teams in the East who all battled together along with the Celtics. In just one offseason two of those teams became obsolete because of these friends deciding to play together rather than compete against each other.

Based on championships the move was successful for the stars. They went to four straight Finals and won two of them. The Eastern Conference has been a cake walk for them because they all teamed up. They couldn’t man up and beat one another like the stars of the past. There are no true rivalries in the Eastern Conference. LeBron has no rivals because he joined them.

Fast forward to this year. The Warriors and Spurs are becoming true rivals because their cores are the same and have been built for a few years, with the Spurs core being around much longer. We then get a comment from LeBron in which he says he would love to play with his former teammate and friend Dwayne Wade, and long time friends Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. Chris Paul has been unsuccessful in ever reaching a Conference Finals. Carmelo Anthony has never been to a Finals and finds himself at a crossroads in his career. He is showing signs of concern in becoming one of the best players ever to never win a ring.

Now we have to hear talks of all four of them joining up to play together. Why is that? Is it because LeBron is 2-4 in the Finals? Because Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have never been to a Finals? All together they may get to a Finals or win one because that amount of talent on the floor on one team has only been seen on an Olympic team.

There is a reason professional leagues implemented free agency. It was for a level playing field. It was for the teams who were bad every year to have a chance at competing the next year. Previous generations weren’t afraid to fail to get better. They didn’t join forces just to make success easier. I want the best players in the league fighting for championships not finding the easiest route to one. Hopefully a player comes into the NBA or is currently in the NBA to change the culture back to fighting and growing through failure rather than just quitting and finding some friends to play with.

If players continue to team up and try to form super teams that look like an Olympic roster, it will be the death of competition.

NBA Mid-Season Awards

kris

There has been plenty of rookies tearing it up this season. Photo by USA Today

It’s that time of year again everyone, the All-Star break. It is a little past the halfway point of the season but the All-Star break has always been looked at as the mid-season and for those teams who make deep postseason runs it still is. So catch your breath, gather yourself and lace your sneakers for the second half of the season.

There has been great basketball so far and it is only going to get better as teams fight for seeding and prepare for the road to the NBA Finals. Here are my mid-season awards.

Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics)- Last year Boston finished with a sub .500 record and only had 40 wins. At the All-Star break Boston is currently the 3 seed in the East and has 32 wins. Many believed they would be better but nobody expected them to be this good. Brad Stevens is doing a phenomenal job and has made the jump from college to the pros better than most.

Honorable Mention: Dwane Casey (Toronto Raptors)- The Raptors are currently the 2 seed in the East and improved some from last year. If they can catch the Cavaliers, Dwane Casey would deserve to be the Coach of the Year over Brad Stevens.

Most Improved Player: CJ McCollum (Portland Trailblazers)- CJ McCollum has seen a 20 minute per game increase in his minutes and he is flourishing because of it. His scoring has improved and he went from 6.8 points per game (ppg) to 20.7 ppg which is nearly a 14 point improvement. A big reason for that scoring improvement is, in part, due to his work ethic to improve his free throw shooting by nearly 10%  from 69.9% last year to 79.7% this year. Along with his scoring he has improved his assists per game by 3.2 per game, and his rebounds are up by 2.1 per game. Nobody has come close to improving as much as McCollum.

6th Man of the Year: Enes Kanter (Oklahoma City Thunder)- Enes Kanter could start for most teams in the NBA but has found a role with the Thunder as the 6th man. He is averaging 11.9 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game. He is the best player coming off the bench this season and if the Thunder want to knock off the Warriors Enes Kanter has to continue being a dominant force off the bench.

Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat)- Hassan Whiteside is the one of the very few players in the NBA capable of getting a triple double with blocks.  The only other player who is capable is Anthony Davis. Hassan Whiteside is a terror inside and is blocking nearly four shots per game. What his stats don’t show is the amount of shots he alters. His presence on the interior is unmatched and he is the best rim protector in the NBA.

Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)- Anthony Davis is close to becoming a superstar. Everyone loves how he plays and the potential he has but what a lot of people forget is that he is just as fun to watch on defense. He suffocates defenders and makes it miserable for whoever he guards. He could easily win this award but Whiteside has the edge.

Rookie of the Year: Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)- Want to know what makes Towns the unanimous Rookie of the Year? When you watch him play you think he is a long time veteran. As a rookie he is averaging a double double with 17.1 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game. He joined Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James and Chris Webber as the only players to have a game with 35 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a game under the age of 21. This is probably the easiest award to hand out.

Honorable Mention: Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)- Porzingis was booed mightily on draft night and almost everyone said he would be a bust. Phil Jackson was ridiculed but is actually looking like a genius. Porzingis is already getting nicknames like Godzingis for his stellar play. He started off hot but has cooled down lately which is understandable due to the fact that he is 19 years old and only played in Europe. The NBA season is long and grinding and he will learn how to keep his body in shape for a full 82 game season. If he can find magic in the second half of the season he can close the gap between himself and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Most Valuable Player: Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)- Reigning MVP, and NBA champion Steph Curry has nothing to prove and nobody to compete against for the MVP Trophy. There is no competition, the race is over. At the All-Star break the Warriors are an unfathomable  48-4. They are cruising towards the record set by the 1995-96 Bulls of 72 wins in a season and being the best player on the best team that breaks that record is guaranteed the MVP trophy. Along with his team accomplishments, Steph Curry leads the league in scoring with 29.8 ppg, which is even more impressive when he sits out of a lot of fourth quarters. He is also averaging 6.6 assists per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and his player efficiency rating (PER) is 32.18 which would be a new NBA record. The current record is held by Wilt Chamberlain with a PER of 31.82 in the 1962-63 season. No player holds a candle to this resume, nobody else is in the running.