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2015 NBA Draft: So Your Team Drafted Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell

A 5-star high school recruit, D'Angelo Russell performed beyond expectations in his freshman season under Thad Matta, and hopes to continue that success at the next level.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

So your team opted to bring in Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell.  At this point, you're probably wondering what value Russell could add to an NBA roster.  Though Russell did not go as the #1 overall pick, he is still an elite prospect that should make a difference to an NBA roster immediately.

D'Angelo Russell Draft Profile/NBA Breakdown:
  • College: Ohio State
  • Class: Freshman
  • Position: PG/SG
  • Height: 6'5''
  • Weight: 180

Overview

A 5-star recruit out of Montverde High School, D'Angelo Russell was not looked at as a definite one and done player at Ohio State. Coming out of high school as the #13 overall prospect, according to ESPN.com, it was unknown whether Russell would play shooting guard or point guard for the Buckeyes. As it turned out, the left-hander would have the ball in his hands a lot for Thad Matta's club, and prove to be one of the most skilled players in college basketball. Russell was a finalist for the Wooden Award and was named the first-ever winner of the Jerry West Award, given to the nation's top shooting guard.

While Russell was named the top shooting guard in college basketball last season, it is thought that he will be a point guard at the next level. Here's a quick look on Russell's stats in his only season in Columbus.

D'Angelo Russell's Season Averages

Year MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO FG% 3P% FT%
2014-2015 33.9 19.3 5.7 5.0 1.6 0.3 2.9 .449 .411 .756

What To Expect At The Next Level

You can expect Russell to have an immediate impact in the NBA. Russell took almost 15 shots per game for the Buckeyes and will be best with the ball in his hands at the next level. When given any kind of space, Russell can be deadly from anywhere on the court. While opposing teams' primary focus when facing the Buckeyes was shutting down Russell, he still managed to shoot over 41% from deep and had a respectable 1.72:1 assist to turnover ratio. While this ratio is not great, Russell had a lot of turnovers this season that were passes that went through teammates hands. Russell makes advanced passes, but has to realize when his teammates are not expecting a pass and not waste a possession trying to fit a pass in a tight window.

Learning how to create for others will determine whether Russell can excel as a point guard at the next level. A lot of his ability to get his teammates good looks in college was because defenses were so focused on defending him that they lost containment of other Buckeyes. In the NBA, Russell will face tougher and quicker individual defenders and will have to beat them off the dribble to draw the defense and create for others. Russell has an elite handle for someone who won't be twenty until next February. At times, it is as if he has the ball on a string. His ball handling will help him beat players who are quicker than him.

One area that will be a focus for Russell in the NBA is finishing around the rim. While he has good athleticism, Russell is not the elite athlete that some would expect out of a 19-year old point guard. He relies mostly on a skill, and may find it challenging to finish among the bigs in the NBA. Developing a floater that he can use to shoot over the trees in the lane will help Russell be the elite scorer at the next level that he was in college.

Defensively, Russell has the size to guard a point guard or shooting guard. The biggest challenge Russell will have on defense is keeping smaller, quicker point guards in front of him. He's a smart player and can use his size to his advantage by backing off players to ensure they don't drive past him while still using his length to contest shots.

Overall, Russell has the potential to be an elite point guard because of his consistent shooting mixed with his court vision and advanced handles. I wouldn't expect everything to be perfect for Russell in his first few years in the NBA as he will not be twenty until midway through his rookie season, but he is a unique case as he relies more on skill than athleticism at a young age.