Warriors

NBA scout unsure about D'Angelo Russell, won't be surprised if he peaked

NBA scout unsure about D'Angelo Russell, won't be surprised if he peaked

Newly-acquired Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell entered the NBA as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here are his stats from his first four seasons:

-2015-16 = 13.2 points, 3.3 assists, 41.0 percent overall, 35.1 percent from deep
-2016-17 = 15.6 points, 4.8 assists, 40.5 percent overall, 35.2 percent from deep
-2017-18 = 15.5 points, 5.2 assists, 41.4 percent overall, 32.4 percent from deep
-2018-19 = 21.1 points, 7.0 assists, 43.4 percent overall, 36.9 percent from deep

That's a pretty nice trajectory. But one Eastern Conference scout is not sold on Russell.

"I don't know if he's really that good," the scout told Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. "Everything went right for him. I wouldn't be surprised if last season is the best one he ever has."

This scout isn't the only person in the basketball world who feels this way. But there also are those who believe the 23-year-old can be even better moving forward and will see improved efficiency playing alongside Steph Curry and Draymond Green (and eventually Klay Thompson).

It's safe to assume that Russell is aware he has doubters. He also knows that some people are doubting the Warriors, and think the Dubs will miss the playoffs or struggle to make the postseason.

[RELATED: Warriors didn't sign Russell just to trade him, Myers says]

These opinions do provide extra motivation.

"For sure. For sure," he told NBC Sports Bay Area at Summer League in Las Vegas. "I think we got a good group of guys that can really make some noise."

Russell's two-time NBA MVP teammate agrees.

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Steph Curry fires back after Kevin Durant criticizes Warriors offense

Steph Curry fires back after Kevin Durant criticizes Warriors offense

Kevin Durant has sent some mixed messages about what he wants in his basketball situation.

He was the man in Oklahoma City, co-starring with Russell Westbrook in an offense heavily predicated on isolation basketball. In search of playing a more beautiful game, Durant left OKC in 2016 to join the Warriors and Steve Kerr's ball-movement offense.

After three years and unparalleled success, Durant exited the Bay to head to Brooklyn, signing with the Nets in free agency in July. The two-time NBA Finals MVP discussed his exit from the Warriors in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, and he had some critiques of the ball-movement offense. Durant believes the system is limited, and there would come a time in the playoffs where he needed to "go into his bag" to get his own shot because the opposition had figured out how to slow down Kerr's offense.

Curry, who has been almost unstoppable in the Warriors' system, had something to say about Durant's criticism.

"Well, I don't care what plays we ran," Curry told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "We won two championships. And at the end of the day, we had a lotta talent and there was an expectation of us figuring out how to balance all that. And we talked a lot about it throughout the three-year run. It wasn't always perfect, but I think in terms of, you know, the results and what we were able to do on the floor, that kinda speaks for itself. We all wanna play iso-ball at the end of the day in some way, shape or form. But I'd rather have some championships, too."

[RELATED: Steph responds to KD's belief Warriors never accepted him]

It's hard to argue with either point of view. Durant is one of the most talented scorers in NBA history, and was a seamless fit in Kerr's offense. But his isolation game almost is unguardable, so it's understandable why he would want the ball in his hands more. Really, who wouldn't want Durant to have the ball?

But as Curry said, the Warriors' results over the past five seasons speak to the success and potency of their ball-movement offense, one of the reasons the Warriors almost were able to win the 2019 NBA Finals even after Durant ruptured his Achilles. Just turn on the tape, and you can see how effective the offense is, both with and without Durant.

Warriors' Steph Curry plans to play for Team USA in 2020 Olympic Games

Warriors' Steph Curry plans to play for Team USA in 2020 Olympic Games

The year 2020 is going to be different for the USA, and I'm not just talking about the upcoming presidential election.

As you're aware, every A- and B-level star elected not to play for coach Gregg Popovich and Team USA this summer (no offense, Donovan Mitchell). As a result, the Americans sputtered to a seventh-place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. But don't expect the big names to take the same approach to the 2020 Olympic Games.

Steph Curry, for one, is ready to get buckets on the international stage.

"That is the plan, for sure," the Warriors star told ESPN's Rachel Nichols on if he plans to play in Tokyo next summer. "You know, obviously knock on wood, you don't want any injuries or things like that to interfere.

"Definitely wanna go," Curry said. "I've never been on the Olympic team. I've been on two World Cup championship gold-medal teams. But the Olympics is the experience that I want. And next year will hopefully be it."

Team USA is just as excited for Steph to join the squad.

The seventh-place finish was Team USA's worst international showing since its Bronze Medal in the disaster that was the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The Americans have won three straight gold medals since then, buoyed by teams led by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and coach Mike Krzyzewski. With Curry's commitment to the 2020 games, expect other marquee names to line up behind him to lead the Red, White and Blue to another gold medal.

"We're still the best," Curry said. "If we get the guys that are supposed to be there, in terms of, you know, representing us in the Olympic stage and the commitment's been there, and I think it'll be there next year."

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard also said he plans to play in 2020.

[RELATED: Steph responds to KD saying Warriors never accepted him]

With Team USA's latest redemption tour underway, Curry will be tasked with being one of the leaders in getting Team USA back to its rightful place atop the international basketball world.

That's bad news for the rest of the world.