Brooklyn Nets

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell out for several games

D’Angelo Russell has been the Brooklyn Nets best player so far this season, but they’ll have to do without him for a while.

After winning just 20 games last season, the Brooklyn Nets are a respectable 5-8 so far this season. D’Angelo Russell has been the team’s best player thus far, averaging 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. But ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Russell is in line to miss several games with a left knee contusion.

Russell was injured during Saturday night’s road loss to the Utah Jazz, and he traveled back to New York for an MRI. Further evaluation is coming soon, according to Wojnarowski’s sources, so better clarity should be coming. The Nets are already without Jeremy Lin and Spencer Dinwiddie as injuries have thinned their backcourt. So second-year man Isaiah Whitehead is in line for a bigger role now.

As could be expected with the move to Brooklyn, Russell has a career-high usage rate of 34.1 percent right now. But that has also come with more of the erratic play that plagued him over his two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, as the No. 2 overall pick in 2015 is also averaging 4.0 turnovers per game with a turnover rate just over 17 percent.

Since head coach Kenny Atkinson lamented Russell’s turnovers, over a small sample of two games, he has averaged 2.5 turnovers per game.

A right knee sprain bothered Russell early in the season, but he only missed one game due to it. This injury to the opposite knee seems more severe, due to being classified as a contusion and the time Russell is expected to miss.

The vague timetable of Russell missing “several games” invites some skepticism, since knee problems don’t just magically go away. But the Nets are right to be cautious, possibly to a fault. Since they only play four games between now and Thanksgiving, it wouldn’t be shocking if those are the only games Russell misses if rest is all he needs.

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