Highlander HotTake: D’Angelo Russell will be an All-Star and lead the Nets to the playoffs

The Brooklyn Nets aren’t as bad as their reputation says they are and I think the team is playoff-bound. Second-year Head Coach Kenny Atkinson has implemented a high movement offensive system that has the Nets, get this, leading the league in points. And at the center of it all is ex-Laker and former number two overall pick, D’Angelo Russell, who will be an All-Star this season.

Russell has had an outstanding season thus far, averaging 23 points, four rebounds and five assists in only 28 minutes per game while leading his Brooklyn Nets to a surprising 3-3 record.

A big part of both predictions has to do with the weak Eastern Conference. The only two point guards who are locks for making the East All-Star team are John Wall and Kyrie Irving. Other than those two, there isn’t another guard in the East who is playing as well as Russell has. In order to prove that he is an All-Star he’s going to need to continue to produce at this level all season long and also lead his team into the playoff picture.

Other guards that could be in the discussion are Kemba Walker and Kyle Lowry. Walker so far has played just as well as Russell but his team has the worse record so far, so how the teams are looking going into All-Star break could definitely have a pull for who should be voted for. Lowry, on the other hand, hasn’t performed anywhere close to Russell. Lowry is averaging only 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists on 35 percent shooting from the field. Lowry’s team will end up with a better record, but D’Angelo is averaging almost double his points with more efficiency, and has produced nearly the same output for rebounds and assists in fewer minutes.

Leading Brooklyn into playoff contention doesn’t seem too farfetched because of the Eastern Conference’s weakness. There are only five teams who are without a doubt making the playoffs, which leaves three playoff spots open for the Nets to seize. The Nets are currently tied for the eighth seed and their offense has actually been the best in the league thanks to their surprisingly competent roster.

The Nets have a lot of long, athletic players like third-year forward Rondae Hollis Jefferson, and second-year guard Caris LeVert, who are good around the rim, but they also feature plenty of great three-point shooters like fifth-year marksman Allen Crabbe, and stretch five Trevor Booker. This bolstered roster should be able to make a push for the playoffs because of their balanced offensive attack especially in the weak Eastern Conference behind first-time All-Star Russell.