Russell Finds A Home, Wolves Welcome All-Star Point Guard
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D’Angelo Russell is 100% a Timberwolf.
This isn’t a prank or a tweet from a fake Woj Twitter account. It’s actually happening.
On Thursday, Wolves’ President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas and his staff played chess on the final day of the February trade deadline and landed Russell in a blockbuster deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors earned Minnesota’s 2021 protected first-round pick and second-round pick, but to bring Russell to Minnesota without giving up either of the Wolves’ 2020 first-round picks is quite the achievement for Rosas & Co.
As exciting as the trade was, it was equally necessary. The Wolves tacked on their 35th loss of the season less than 24 hours before the trade and were in desperate need of a fresh start. And that’s coming from one of the most loyal Wiggins supporters around. Wiggins’ time with Minnesota was undeniably flawed and left a whole lot to be desired, but I will be rooting for him from afar as he too gets a fresh start.
That said, it’s time to welcome Minnesota’s newest All-Star and explore what could come in the Wolves’ next chapter with D’Lo at the reins.
Filling the Point Guard Void
The Wolves have tried out six different players at the point guard position in the 2019-20 season and based on their current offensive rating of 106.4 (23rd in the league), none have proven to be a spectacular fit. But with Russell on board, Jordan McLaughlin and Jaylen Nowell can continue to develop under less pressure while Jarrett Culver can move to shooting guard, which was his primary position at Texas Tech.
But Russell won’t only be the best point guard the Wolves have seen this season alone. At the expense of offending Ricky Rubio fans, a group I identify with, Russell represents the best point guard Karl-Anthony Towns will have played with in his five-year career. Rubio’s passing still stands alone, but his inability to shoot weighed down his overall impact on the offensive end.
In Russell, the Wolves will be gaining a point guard who can not only create for his teammates, but who can also pop a 3 or beat a defender on the drive at will.
Russell averaged a career-high 23.6 points in his 33-game stint with the Warriors while managing to still average 6.2 assists per game. He’s one of only four players to average at least 23 points and six assists while shooting at least 37 percent from 3-point range. The other three? Damian Lillard, Trae Young and Kyrie Irving. Being a part of that elite group makes Russell the second-best 3-point shooter on the Wolves’ roster, just behind Towns. He’s also a great system fit as over 50 percent of his field goal attempts per game come from 3-point range.
Getting the ball to Towns should no longer be a continuous gripe not only because of Russell’s premiere passing skills, but because of his chemistry with Towns.
Towns, of course, was the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, and Russell was there right beside him going second to the Lakers, and they’ve made their friendship well known throughout their time in the league. KAT has already proven to be one of the greatest offensive talents of our time, but just imagine what he’ll be able to do once he takes the court with an All-Star point guard who’s a dynamic scorer himself. Not to mention, the best center Russell has played with is probably … Jarrett Allen? Who knows what he has left to unveil once he’s teammates with one of the best centers in the league?
Back in 2015, imagining those two one day joining forces felt like a dream-like scenario almost too unfathomable to even fantasize about. Now it’s Minnesota’s reality. And neither Towns or Russell are 25 years old yet. Oh, man.
Finding A Home
Russell has only been in the league for five seasons, but he’s already played for four different franchises.
In an interview with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater from earlier this season, Russell said, “I just want to be somewhere where it’s home and I can unpack my bags, but I’m so comfortable with being uncomfortable nowadays that it is what it is.”
In the meantime, as stated before, the Wolves have been desperately searching for a point guard who can not only maximize Towns’ full potential but who can come in and provide another All-Star presence.
Well, D’Lo, it looks like we’ve found a match. Unpack your bags and make yourself at home.
Russell will most-likely make his debut with the Wolves on Saturday, Feb. 8, in the Wolves’ home game against the Los Angeles Clippers scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.