Why D'Angelo Russell's skill set excites Warriors coach Steve Kerr


Why D'Angelo Russell's skill set excites Warriors coach Steve Kerr

The Warriors' backcourt will look much different at the start of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Two-time MVP Stephen Curry won't start the year alongside fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson, as the sharpshooter recovers from tearing his ACL in the NBA Finals. D'Angelo Russell, who the Warriors acquired in the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, will be Golden State's other guard. 

The Warriors will change with Russell's presence, but Steve Kerr is intrigued by the 23-year-old brings to the table.

"[He's a dynamic] player in the pick and roll, excellent shooter and I like his in-between game," Kerr told Monte Poole on Wednesday's episode of The Warriors Insider Podcast. "He makes a lot of plays out of the pick-and-roll. Those float shots are tough to master, and he makes those pretty routinely. So, we can do a lot of things with D'Angelo on and off the ball."

As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh observed earlier this month, Russell was the primary ballhandler on nearly as many pick-and-rolls (920) as the Warriors ran as a team (995) last season. The Warriors' subsequent moves this summer point in the direction of more pick-and-roll plays, especially the signing of big man Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein was the roll man on 3.2 pick-and-roll possessions per game last season, according to NBA.com. 

"I'm anxious to get started with him and see how he's going to play with Steph," Kerr said. "We'll probably run more pick-and-roll than we have in the past, given our change in personnel. But, I'm really excited to have him on board and can't wait to coach him."

[RELATED: How Dubs can make up for lost assists in 2019-20 season]

Although Russell was Brooklyn's primary ball-handler last season, he made a career-high 39.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers last season. He is a career 37.4 percent shooter from beyond the arc in those situations, and it stands to reason he could raise that mark playing alongside Curry. With Thompson out, Curry figures to draw most of the focus from opposing defenses and that could create more openings for Russell. 

That's easier said than done, though, and Kerr will have to revamp the Warriors' offense after so much turnover this summer. It sounds like the three-time champion is ready to embrace the challenge. 

What Warriors' Klay Thompson repeatedly told Damion Lee during rehab

What Warriors' Klay Thompson repeatedly told Damion Lee during rehab

Damion Lee tore his right ACL on Nov. 27, 2013 during his junior season at Drexel University.

The Warriors guard then tore his left ACL on Dec. 23, 2016 while playing for the Maine Red Claws -- the Boston Celtics' G League affiliate.

Klay Thompson tore his left ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

"We've had several conversations before about rehab in regards to the ACL," Lee said this week on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast with Kerith Burke and Grant Liffmann. "He'd always joke, 'Damn, D-Lee. I don't know how you did this twice because this is a lot.'

"It's cool to see what he's been through and now wanting to come back and go all out."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

What kind of 2020-21 season does Lee expect from Klay when the three-time NBA champion finally returns to game action?

"I feel like he wants to show people that he is the best two-way guard in the league," Lee said. "He's done it before. He's in a pretty good mind space. I think he's just ready to go out there and play."

[RELATED: Klay tells fans in China his mind, body are '100 percent']

Klay wasn't around the team a lot last season. But when he was at Chase Center, he made his presence felt.

"There were a lot of times where he'd just pull younger guys aside and give guys little tidbits," Lee explained. "It's unique to see. Everyone is so used to seeing Klay being quiet or reserved. Hearing him actually speak up and talk and give some input is huge.

"That's a huge step -- not only for him but the team and a lot of the younger guys seeing him as a big brother and as an influence."

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Watch Warriors' Steph Curry adorably teach son Canon to golf on beach

Watch Warriors' Steph Curry adorably teach son Canon to golf on beach

The thing Steph Curry probably loves more than basketball is his family … and golf. Golf is probably a close second, but the man is obsessed with the game. So what happens when the Warriors’ superstar introduces his son Canon to it? Well, cuteness … obviously.

I know, it’s the cutest thing you will see today.

Curry will be playing once again in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament this weekend in Lake Tahoe. It’ll be his eighth appearance if you can understand how much he loves it. 

We could all assume Steph is looking forward to the day both he and Canon could truly enjoy the greens together. He’s obsessed with the game. So much so, he would think about it during basketball.

"I think I think about golf too much -- and that's a problem,” he said in an episode of ‘Stephen vs The Game’. “Like, during a game, yeah. The game of golf just gets under my skin.”

Steph might not have touched a club until the age of 10, which is well after he started toying around on the court, but per usual, he excelled at it. 

[RELATED: Curry wants to help save 'Warriors House' in West Oakland]

Still, he admitted he was “haunted” by the game -- a notion his wife Ayesha mentioned.

Either way, this important aspect of his life will be exciting to hand down to young Canon.