D’lo is definitely a sore spot for me. Deep breath…

I watched Russell for two years, hoping there was an All-Star player hidden in that bundle of streaky shooting, lazy passes, hot dog plays where the mustard came off far too often, and that signature lack of defense. It’s easy to think his problems were all due to the Kobe retirement tour and Byron Scott’s terrible coaching, but he had a year with Luke trying to teach the team defense and Warriors basketball and his decision making was pretty bad.

Brooklyn has quietly built a good young team with a couple of great shooters in Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe (combined 4.9 of 11.3 3P), three others who combine to shoot league average (combined 5 of 13.7 3P) to spread the floor and give Russell the ability to play the role of a very poor man’s James Harden. So he’s got a very high usage rate, but the lowest free throw rate of anyone in the league who shoots over 17 shots a game.

As far as the East Second Team All-Stars, I put Dinwiddie above him and also Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon plays in the shadow of Giannis, which means he’s not the primary ball handler, so his stats will be reduced accordingly. But he’s a huge part of the Bucks’ success this year, averaging almost 16/5/3 on .408 3P% and playing great defense (99.1 DRtg on a team with a DRtg of 103.5).

In the past, the best team in a conference gets 3 and sometimes 4 All-Stars (Warriors, and the 2015 Hawks), so Brogdon should have gotten the nod.

It does bring up an interesting question, though, about how players fit into their team’s system. If you switched these two players, would both teams be worse?

I think Milwaukee would definitely be worse because their defense would develop a huge hole for opposing guards to leak through, and Russell’s streaky shooting would help win a couple of games they might have lose, but also lose some games they might have won.

For Brooklyn, they needed some insane shooting nights by Russell to win games, especially some of the last minute “ice in my veins” type shots. Does Brogdon have the psychological makeup to hit those shots? (Even though I think he would expand his game into the space created for Russell, while allowing Dinwiddie to play more minutes at the point.)

Finally, the things that bothered me the most about the Angelo (always missing the “D”) All-Star selection were his statement to the press that he should be an All-Star.

I’ve been hearing podcasts where people are suggesting that Russell could be the best player of all the Lakers’ draft picks, and how they never should have traded Russell.

But they forget that Russell lost the confidence of the locker room with his social media expose of Nick Young’s infidelity. The team just couldn’t keep Russell after that. And they made a great trade, getting rid of Mozgov, a one year try out for Brook Lopez and the draft pick that would lead to Kyle Kuzma, who you know I will say is already a far more valuable player than Russell.

In addition, all these idiots forget that Russell was a little worse in his first year with the Nets than he was with the Lakers. Then he got injured and missed half the year.

Say what you want about Lonzo, Ingram and Kuzma, but Julius Randle was playing like an All-Star for the second half of last season, and all of this season. On a struggling Pelicans team, Randle averages 20.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.0 apg.

Guess who else is putting up those numbers? Davis, Embiid, Giannis, KAT, Westbrook, Jokic, Aldridge and Vucevic. And every single one of them is on the All-Star team.

Randle is actually shooting better on three pointers (34%) than any of his former Lakers teammates! He has a +4.0 net rating.

Even if you make the argument that Aldridge was just a little better and the West is too stacked, he is a viable candidate, unlike Russell, where he is near the bottom in a group of similar players (18th in points, 17th in rebounds, 9th in assists, 16th in win shares, 15th in true shooting %, 18th in free throws made and attempted, 10th in steals, 16th in blocks, etc.).

BTW, players on this list who did not make the All-Star game include DeRozan, Holiday and John Wall, who are all far better than Russell in almost every category.

Finally, let’s assume that Russell has turned a corner. Next year, he’s going to want a max contract. So if you keep Russell, you basically get a high volume streaky shooter who doesn’t play defense on a ridiculous contract that will hamstring your team in the same way that Minnesota and Washington are completely screwed unless their players are miraculously reborn in the holy water of hustle and defense.

I can say without a shadow of doubt, that I would take Lonzo, Ingram and Kuzma over Russell any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

I only wish the Lakers had kept Randall. The team would easily be in the playoffs at this point.

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Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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