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."

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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. 

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