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Warriors' Steve Kerr on D'Angelo Russell: 'Going to Need Him, Desperately'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the game at Barclays Center on October 28, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

Some have questioned how free-agent signee D'Angelo Russell will fit with the Golden State Warriors, but head coach Steve Kerr believes the 2019 All-Star should be able to have success in the system.

On Monday, Kerr stressed how important Russell will be to the Warriors:

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Warriors coach Steve Kerr on D’Angelo Russell: “He’s going to fit right in with our group. We’re going to need him, desperately.” https://t.co/r5qrMB23Ck

"He's going to fit right in with our group. We're going to need him, desperately, without Klay especially. We need D'Angelo's scoring, and it's up to us as a staff to figure out, you know, how best to use him and to shape the team, shape the offense. ... We'll figure it out."

Russell was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in a sign-and-trade following two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant's decision to team up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. And not only did the Warriors lose Durant to free agency, but they also figure to be without five-time All-Star Klay Thompson, who tore his ACL in June, for a good chunk of the 2019-20 season.

As a result, Kerr and Co. will be without two of their top three scorers from a season ago—and they hope Russell can help replace some of that offense.

Taken second overall in 2015, Russell is coming off his finest performance to date. The 23-year-old averaged career highs in scoring (21.1) and assists (7.0) per game last season while helping the Nets snap a three-year playoff drought.

And while Russell has proved he can put a team on his back and go off for 40 from time to time, questions remain about how he will fit in Kerr's system and in the same backcourt as two-time league MVP Stephen Curry.

Russell is a 41.9 percent shooter for his four-year career, and he has never shot above 36.9 percent from three-point range in a single season. With Curry serving as the team's primary ball-handler through the years, the Warriors have thrived on players who can catch and shoot. Russell, however, had a breakout season in 2018-19 with the ball in his hands, as he was tied for 10th in the NBA with a 31.1 percent usage rate.

Kerr has let it be known that he envisions Curry and Russell being on the court at the same time, though it's possible he could look to stagger the two during games. Regardless, the Warriors are counting on Russell to help Curry and Draymond Green carry the load while Thompson is out.

There are some who believe Russell will be a trade chip when Thompson is healthy. Kerr, on the other hand, recently revealed that the team eventually plans on running out a starting lineup featuring Curry, Thompson and Russell, per NBA.com:

"I think he's going to be great. First, just having a guy who can get you 20 points a night — especially with Klay out for most of the regular season — that's a huge luxury. The biggest thing will be playing on and off the ball. D'Angelo is a great pick-and-roll player, obviously so is Steph, they're going to both start in the backcourt together. When Klay comes back, I would imagine all three of them would start... I don't think we'll have a problem."

It will be up to the Warriors to figure out how to make this new-look squad work. If they can pull it off, they will have the opportunity to keep their historic run going as they make the move to San Francisco.