Some scattered thoughts after spending a couple of days in Columbus, Ohio, watching D’Angelo Russell for a feature in this week’s Sports Illustrated:
• Russell is a pure playmaker. Buckeyes coach Thad Matta told me he wasn’t sure what position Russell would settle into entering the season; there isn’t much debate now. Though Russell shares the backcourt with Shannon Scott, he is the team’s most accomplished passer. He has a phenomenal ability to read defenses coming off a screen, and fires passes with impressive velocity. He is an assist-producing machine; one NBA executive told me Russell could become a consistent double-digit assist man at the next level.
• He can shoot it, too. NBA executives love to scrutinize shooting form, and by all accounts, Russell’s is solid. Some scouts suggested a few tweaks, but none thought any kind of overhaul was needed for a player who has made 41.5% of his threes this season.
• Is he athletic enough? This was likely the most consistent criticism. Russell has good size (6’5”) for an NBA point guard, but scouts wonder if he has enough athleticism to regularly defend playmakers that seem to become more dynamic by the year.