D’Angelo Russell – Best Case: Brandon Roy, Worst Case: O.J. Mayo
Russell has drawn comparisons to players like Stephen Curry and James Harden and while I do see some similarities, the player he most resembles is former Portland Trail Blazer Brandon Roy.
Before his knees fell apart, Roy was on his way to becoming one of the NBA’s brightest young stars as a guy who could play both guard positions. At his early peak, he was a 20-5-5 guy who made three straight All-Star teams and consecutive All-NBA teams.
Russell has the same feel for the game as Roy does. Unlike most young guards, Russell plays at a very controlled pace and is excellent at changing speeds to get to the basket and finish or set his teammates up. Also, like Roy, Russell is more of a smooth athlete, and not the explosive highlight-reel jumper that many other guards are these days.
I do believe Russell is a better shooter while Roy was a little more developed physically when he came into the league, but the ballhandling, basketball IQ, passing, and feel for the game are very similar and should Russell reach his potential, the Lakers have a star on their hands.
Likewise, O.J. Mayo was touted as a new-age point guard at 6’5 and while he is still a rotational player, never came close to reaching his potential in the NBA. If Russell can’t quite make up for his athleticism, and becomes more of a scorer than playmaker, a career similar to Mayo’s is not out of the question.