Thank you, Lakers, for trading for former Timberwolves D’Angelo Russell

Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Timberwolves fans knew the strengths and weaknesses of PG D’Angelo Russell. And at the NBA Trade Deadline, the Timberwolves front office was delighted to participate in a three-team trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to the Los Angeles Lakers, and in return acquired PG Mike Conley Jr, SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and three second-round draft picks in future drafts.

At the time, the overall consensus was that the Los Angeles Lakers won the trade hands down. They landed a starting point guard, and several key rotational players, and lost one distant future first-round pick and a couple of journeymen players. The Utah Jazz got a first-rounder. And last and most certainly least in the view of so many, the Minnesota Timberwolves got some table scraps.

For the record, I loved what the Minnesota Timberwolves did from the moment that the three-team trade was announced. At the time, there were not many who saw and expressed satisfaction with that trade.

Time for a follow-up Timberwolves Trade update

But how do you like that trade now, NBA fans? After all, D’Angelo Russell is the same guy he used to be. While he may average impressive numbers, he gets hot, and then he is not. It was that sudden collapse of production that frustrates fans and makes him so very undependable in tight-rotation scenarios like the NBA Playoffs.  In Game 4, Los Angeles Lakers fans are letting him have it:

Of course, there is this:

And this:

The comparison of the two point guards is nearly a dead heat. Russell is averaging 13.7 PPG and 6.0 APG after three games, while Conley is averaging 13.3 PPG and 5.8 APG after four games. But Russell had just 5 points in Game 2 and is not winning over Lakers fans with a two-point first half in Game 4.

Timberwolves appear to be leading in trade results so far

Keep in mind that this is merely the comparison between DLo and Conley, not all of the other pieces that the Timberwolves acquired at the NBA Trade Deadline. And it does not even address the fact that Mike Conley Jr. is much better defensively than D’Angelo Russell.

Hey, Game 4 is not over yet. D’Angelo Rusell could rally back and lead the Lakers to a victory. It could happen. And late in the fourth quarter after sitting a spell, D’Angelo Russell suddenly ‘got hot’ once more, draining a pair of three-point shots to elevate his scoring in the game to 11 points.

In fact, Russell got hot enough to hit on three key perimeter shots, as he went on to score 15 of his 17 points in this game in the second half. The Lakers can make up the difference when D’Angelo Russell goes ice-cold. The Minnesota TImberwolve simply cannot. The Timberwolves are not quite there yet and do not have the bench strength to tap Rui Hachimura, Dennis Schroeder, or Austin Reaves to pick up the slack that a cold DLo leaves.

You see, D’Angelo Russell is his own worst enemy. He showcases what he is capable of, putting up a ton of points and looking every bit the part of an NBA starter. Then? The walls collapse and he struggles to score more than a handful of points. He has been traded four times over the span of his ten-season NBA career. His longest chapter by far is the time spent playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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So thank you Los Angeles Lakers for trading for ex-Minnesota Timberwolves PG D’Angelo Russell.  And to all of the Lakers fans who were so happy to get DLo? Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it. And now that you got him, you will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of PG D’Angelo Russell as well.