Having watched D’Angelo Russell over the last two years, there is no doubt in my mind that his ceiling is a poor man’s James Harden. He’ll become a very good offensive player (though he’ll never finish at the rim like Harden) who can’t play defense against any-above average point guard.
His biggest problems are mental, so it’s hard to say how much he can improve with age and maturity. Mr “Ice in my veins!” is an irrational confidence guy who can get hot once in a while, but doesn’t have the skills to make a difference when he shot is off.
He’s a guy who wants to hit the game winning shot, and exults when he does it in a Summer League game. Contrast that with Lonzo who only cares about and talked about winning.
When he was playing pretty well against Portland last year, for some unknown reason he physically challenged Damian Lillard on the court. Lillard got pissed off and then torched Russell and the Lakers, outscoring them 53–30 in the second half.
Contrast that with Ball’s calm response to the trash talking by Gortat and Wall before the Washington game.
I guess the biggest difference between them is their basketball vision. Russell could make some great passes, but they always had a high degree of difficulty, involving some form of disguise. It’s as if he was seeing the window just as it was closing.
On the other hand, Ball is seeing the window before it opens, so he can make a very simple no-frills pass.
While I’m happy we got Kuzma, there are other players I loved in the bottom half of this draw: the three guys from Oregon (Bell, Brooks and Dorsey), along with Sindarius Thornwell of South Carolina.