D'angelo Russell was traded to Brooklyn with hopes of becoming the face of a rebuilding franchise. Despite an injury plagued season last year, the 2018-2019 season is poised to be Russell's for the taking.
When Jeremy Lin was shipped to the Atlanta Hawks, it was a clear signal that the team will now be run by D'angelo, he's expected to be “the guy” on and off the court. The ball is going to be in his hands when the game starts and when the game ends, the team knows it, the fans know it, and even he knows it.
The keyword for Russell this upcoming season is “consistency.” The biggest factor being his health, as if he can play a full year then the sky is the limit for him. Russell was already the best offensive weapon on the Nets last year, it's expected him to to be again this year. Yet other parts of his game will need to be on par with that as well. D'Lo will need to be more consistent on defense and not be picked on, He'll need to cut down on turnovers, while not stifling his creative ball handling and passing, and lastly he needs to keep his head up and stay vocal.
D'angelo Russell and the Nets are coming to the first major crossroads of their rebuild. Russell is entering his contract year and despite being the de facto “face” of the franchise, he hasn't taken that step yet. For the Nets, they enter this season with a young team and are stocked with assets; Brooklyn will enter next off season with two max contract slots and their own first round pick, they need to be competitive.
I'm not going to pencil in Brooklyn as a playoff bound team, it's too early to try and decode the lower Eastern conference playoff spots. Yet, the East has gotten weaker and Brooklyn is building up a head of steam. The Nets have the ability to shock the East and finally shine light on their franchise after years of being in the dark. All of this can happen, but only if D'angelo Russell can take them there.