D’Angelo Russell speaks out on being put in ‘foreign’ positions to start season
The Minnesota Timberwolves were labeled as a team that could make the jump to the playoffs this season, but have looked far from a playoff team. Amid the struggles that Minnesota is enduring, D’Angelo Russell voiced his opinion on why the Timberwolves are falling short of expectations thus far.
D'Angelo Russell: "A lot of positions that we're put in right now, it's foreign for us. It's not something that we're used to or accustomed to, and then having somebody like KAT not in the game or not playing right now, it's putting a lot of extra on a lot of us."
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) January 2, 2021
Russell is at his best when he’s able to handle the ball and operate the offense at the point-guard position. However, the Timberwolves have tasked Ricky Rubio with being the orchestrator on offense, relegating Russell to an off-ball role.
Even dating back to last year, in his short time with Minnesota to end the season, Russell began to see his usage decline a bit. After averaging 30+ percent usage from 2017-2020 with the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors, Russell has seen a 29.4 percent usage in his 17 games with the Timberwolves dating back to last season.
His 29.4 usage percentage is the lowest mark of his career since his second year with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016-2017. Through the first five games of this season, Russell is averaging only 16.6 points, four assists, and 1.2 steals per game for Minnesota.
Above all, with Karl Anthony-Towns sidelined with an injury early in the season, the Timberwolves are 2-3, which includes an embarrassing loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday. Russell finished with 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists against the Wizards.
It’s apparent that the arrival of Rubio has caused Ryan Saunders to change the role of certain players on the roster. Maybe after seeing the team struggle in their current roles—especially Russell—Saunders will allow the former No. 2 overall pick to handle the ball more moving forward.