D’Angelo Russell’s ‘Extra Work’ Results in Breakout Game

The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a 6-8 start to the new season, but how?

This past summer, they traded most of their future draft picks to get three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz. They paired him with one of the most dominant offensive bigs in the NBA in, Karl Anthony-Towns.

More importantly, they have one of the brightest and freakishly athletic young talents in the League, Anthony Edwards. So how is this group not reaching the success everyone had deemed them to be atop of? D’Angelo Russell’s struggles may answer that.

While basketball is team-oriented, Russell’s raw production has undoubtedly taken a dip. The Ohio State alum is averaging 14.4 points per game on 32.9 percent shooting from long distance. The only way to combat that kind of slow start through the first 14 games of the season; is to put in more work.

“[Russell was] Extremely locked in in his preparation coming into that game,” said head coach Chris Finch in an interview on KFAN Radio. “I’ve never had a player not benefit from extra work. D’Lo put the work in when he needed to, and it paid off for him and for us.”

Russell had a much-needed 30-piece against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. The narrow victory proved to Finch that the “little live 5-on-5 drills” he conducted in practice were starting to revive Russell’s shooting touch.

“Playing a little live 5-on-5 against coaches and against other players so he could feel a bit more of the rhythm of a game and how he wanted to play,” said Finch. “I told him when he was playing to be very aggressive, shoot it all the time. Just shoot yourself back into a rhythm.”

The 11 assists that night were also an encouraging factor in his performance. Russell’s facilitating, as always, helped Edwards make the cuts for his explosive slams, while Anthony-Towns, in pick-and-pop situations, knocked down the treys that led to victories.

Once everyone finds their game for the Wolves, the team will be a force in the Western Conference; there’s just too much talent not to believe it. For Minnesota to have their star point guard work his way out of the struggles can greatly inspire the rest of the group to find their rhythm.