2. Fit with Kyrie Irving
One of the worst-kept secrets this offseason is the Brooklyn Nets’ love affair with Kyrie Irving. The Nets are the favorites to land the former Cavs and Celtics star, and Irving is very interested in coming to Brooklyn.
In recent weeks, the Kyrie-to-Brooklyn noise has only grown louder. So with a consensus top-five point guard, former Finals champ and All-NBA talent coming to the Nets, bringing back Russell makes no sense.
Irving and Russell, despite both being strong spot-up shooters, are at their best with the ball in in their hands. Russell’s breakout season was large in part due to his 30.9 percent usage rate, which was the sixth-highest mark in the league last year.
Irving’s usage rate was 28.5 percent in 2018-19. No team in the NBA saw two players post usage rates that high last year. It’s nearly impossible to run an efficient offense with two ball-dominant player in today’s NBA. The only reason the Golden State Warriors super-team works is because their stars are unselfish, which may not be the case with an Irving/Russell pairing.
Furthermore, neither Uncle Drew or D-Lo are great defenders. In fact, both Brad Stevens and Kenny Atkinson had to hide their star guard on the defensive end during the playoffs.
Usually it’s never a bad idea to have two All-Stars in the backcourt, but when they don’t fit together on offense and would be like Swiss cheese on defense, it’s not advisable.
Simply put, the Nets can only afford to play with one ball-dominant point guard and Irving is much better in that regard than Russell, exhibited by his .487/.401/.873 slash line compared to D’Angelo’s .431/.369/.780 shooting splits.