D’Angelo Russell is enjoying his time in Brooklyn, but he’s making one thing clear – he doesn’t want the rest of the NBA to.
“Recently we’ve struggled. In the last few years… teams come in and say you can take nights off,” Russell said at the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy on Thursday. “I want to rebuild that and make it a place where people come and say ‘alright, we’ve got the crowd against us. It’s New York.'”
It channeled the ethos of The Defiant Nets. And Russell sounds ready to defy the prognosticator’s place for the Nets this season.
“I know I’m coming in with an edge. Allen Crabbe he’s coming in with an edge, DeMarre Carroll has an edge. We’re a confident team and we’re looking forward to doing what we do,” Russell said.
His words look hotter in print, but Russell says it all with a confident coolness. After all, he does have ice in his veins and he has faith in his new team.
“It’s up to everyone to make their imprint as a team,” Russell said. “Me coming in with a chip on my shoulder, AC coming in, I think that’s going to blend together, mesh together. As long as we’re making those strides, that’s all I can really ask for.”
The first step will be coming together as a new team after a summer of turnover. Russell has been a fixture at HSS Training Center, putting in work and building chemistry with his new teammates and become part of the team’s close-knit culture. If Isaiah Whitehead’s Instagram post of the two of them is any indication, he’s being welcomed in by the Nets.
He’s embracing the organization too, helping out at the Nets Basketball Academy, where he gave out some personal instruction, played HORSE and spent some time with the kids.
As for his training, Russell said his main focus is his body. Allen Crabbe told BrooklynNets.com on Thursday that every player in the NBA has a natural gift and for Russell, it may be more than one, so his focus is on becoming a better athlete.
“Just trying to treat my body the best that I can. Taking care of it, pushing it, but whatever it is, it’s really about my body,” Russell said. “I feel like the basketball is the easy part of a lot of guys, so my body is my main focus.”
The Nets forward-thinking and scientifically-driven training staff – where everything from rest, reps, nutrition and sleep are all monitored – are happy to oblige.
“I’ve never had that. I feel like the science to it is on another level and Brooklyn is embracing it,” Russell said. “I’ve never had that so I’m looking forward to that structure and working on it every day.”
There’s no direct measurement for Russell’s chip on his shoulder. Forget circling one game on the calendar, Russell says he’s circled 82 and he’s excited to start the season.
“It’s easy to talk about it and talk about what you want to do for the team and this and that,” Russell said. “When you get out there and play it’s a different story, so once we start playing I think I’ll have a better feel, but I’m excited.”