D'Angelo Russell (Left) celebrating a tough shot with Spencer Dinwiddie (Right) (Courtesy of 2thetopacademy.com)
The Webb Schools

D’Angelo Russell: The underground MVP

Whenever someone says “Most Valuable Player,” any sane basketball fan would think about LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kawhi Leonard. They’ve led their respective teams to well-seeded positions with an occasional 40-point night.

Any sane basketball fan would agree that these factors make a convincing MVP case. But I’m not a sane basketball fan. When someone says MVP to me, I instantly blurt out D’Angelo Russell and here’s why.

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LeBron and Giannis shaking hands (Courtesy of YahooSports)

Everyone loves an underdog story. That’s why everyone was so excited when the Vegas Golden Nights made it to the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. Heck, we love dark horse stories so much, Katy Perry and Juicy J. even made a song for it.

That’s why the 23-year-old D’Angelo Russell is my absolute favorite. He’s the underdog of underdogs. Coming off of a controversial season with the Lakers, he made an undeniable impact with the Nets.

He averaged nearly 21 points in 12 games before he got injured. And this season, he’s keeping that average strong throughout all 82 games.

But don’t worry, there’s more.

He brings life to the game. Whenever he’s in the stadium, he makes his presence known. Whether it be his dance on the bench with his teammates or his celebrations on-court, he is hard to miss.

His smiles lighten up the tense mood of a game and his moves leave us all in awe. His shots light up the bench and his teammates gather around him in awe.

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The Nets bench celebrating a tough shot (Courtesy of Brooklyn Nets Twitter)

The point is, he brings much more than just the cold hard statistics. He brings that chill, excited vibe to the game; something Dirk Nowitzki could do (if we traveled like two decades back in time).

His style of play is what entices me the most. He excels off the pick and roll, knocking down many midrange shots while also shooting well beyond the arc on several nights. His handles are unique and bulkier as opposed to the soft nimble handles of Kyrie Irving.

He brings that toughness to the guard position, something done by Russell Westbrook as well. But what differentiates these two players is that soft touch. Russell can be nimble like Kyrie but also strong like Westbrook.

Russell can bring that playmaking ability like Rajon Rondo but also that midrange like DeMar DeRozan. It’s that versatility in his game that makes D’Angelo Russell my favorite player of all time.

I’ll admit, D’Angelo Russell is no Stephen Curry; he can’t knock down 3 pointers at a hall of fame level. And I’ll agree that he is no Giannis since he can’t muscle through everyone.

But D’Angelo Russell is D’Angelo Russell. The Dark Horse of the NBA, the new Nick Young, and the one player who’s game is dripping with sauce.

netsrussell.1 DAngelo Russell: The underground MVP
Russell from beyond the arc with 3 defenders close by (Courtesy of New York Post)

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