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Everyone loves Walker Russell

A lot of Pistons fans already dig the way Walker Russell plays — a pass-first point guard? What the What is that? — but he seems to be a bit of a folk here on the D-League, where he spent a good chunk of his professional career racking up assists. Ryan Ripley of Ridiculous Upside recent wrote about Russell’s NBA opportunity:

That confidence showed the night before during the Piston’s game against the New Jersey Nets. Late in the fourth quarter, Russell came off the bench to try to help secure the win. Unfortunately, the Piston’s lost 99-96; however, Walker contributed a career-high 12 points, along with 6 rebounds and 2 assists.

When asked about putting up those types of numbers in the NBA, Russell said, “It feels great. What’s even greater is that I was in during crunch time. I appreciate the confidence that the coaches have in me and I just keep on learning from these experiences.”

Walker spent part of the last five years in the D-League working to get an opportunity to play in the NBA. He only had positive things to say about how the NBA D-League prepared him to play at the highest level.

“The NBA is a lot faster and the guys are bigger. Besides that, the D-League does a good job of preparing guys. I feel like I was well-prepared, and people are saying that it looks like I’ve already adapted to the NBA and now I’m playing solid minutes,” Russell said.

Dave Mayo of MLive reports the Pistons will have to make a decision on Russell soon:

At issue is next week’s Feb. 10 deadline for NBA teams to release players with non-guaranteed contracts, like Russell, or guarantee their contracts for the rest of the season …

Will Bynum is close to coming back from a foot strain, but he’s already on the active roster anyway. Charlie Villanueva isn’t close to coming back, is the only Piston on the inactive list, and it’s his spot that Russell took anyway, so that helps Russell’s chances of sticking. Ben Gordon remains out with a shoulder strain, too. And even with Russell, the Pistons are only carrying 14 players, one fewer than the maximum.

I think most Pistons fans would like to see Russell stick around. He’s a great story, seems like a great teammate and his passing has been fun to watch.

17 Comments

  • Feb 4, 20121:50 pm
    by BIG MARV

    Reply

    Its good to see a fresh face here no matter where he’s from… better enjoy him this year cause he will not be back next season a team will get him, and I will root for him where ever he goes hes a good hardworking talented player.

  • Feb 4, 20121:55 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    Is there some benefit to be had by leaving a roster spot open regarding a possible midseason trade?

    • Feb 4, 20128:37 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I believe that it’s just a cost-savings thing. A handful of teams are keeping that roster spot unfilled just to not pay another salary this season.

  • Feb 4, 20122:17 pm
    by MrBlockedShot

    Reply

    I hope he stays for  a long time here. We can get quality minutes from him coming of the bench. It reminds me of Mike James. I love his basket IQ, passing ability and he can shoot from the outside. He compensates all Stuckey´s downsides…

  • Feb 4, 20122:24 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    his success puts a lie to the BS that joe d has been peddling the last few years: that the team did not need a “true” point guard.
    i like russell.  he’s a nice little guard.  but, in fact, he is basically just giving the team solid point guard play, which is something that has rarely happened since chauncey left.
    i just wish he was 5-6 years younger.

    • Feb 4, 20126:45 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      It doesn’t do that all. Maybe the Pistons need a true point guard. Maybe they don’t. But Walker Russell doesn’t prove either. It’s not like he’s improved the Pistons’ record since they signed him.

      • Feb 6, 201212:47 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        gee…i guess my eyes have been deceiving me.  
        i guess when i see the team playing better when they’ve had a player with true point guard skills – tmac last year and russell this year – it was all an illusion  (in fact, i thought that you recently  justified t-mac’s presence on the team by pointing to the fact that his passing made monroe a better player, and therefore, it was worth whatever the team lost in player development.)
        what i see is this: when guys like tmac and russell are on the floor, the team runs with a purpose and efficiency that simply isn’t present when others play the point.  yes, stuckey doesn’t turn the ball over, but other than getting his own shot, he does precious little to facilitate the offense.  the offense without tmac or russell typically becomes a “i got mine, now you get yours” series of off the dribble jump shots. 
        imho, the “well, the league is different, so true point guards are passe – ” talk has been so discredited, i’m surprised anyone would try to resurrect it.

  • Feb 4, 20124:07 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    You might have noticed that a playing through injury Stuckey has been present for every win this year but not every loss.   You might also have noticed that in the 5 games he came off the bench the team won once.    They are 4-11 when he has started this year which is poor but is a damn sight better than when he doesn’t and they are 1 and 10.
    And you should know that in the last 30 years or so, most championship squads could not say they had a true PG.

    • Feb 4, 20128:41 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Career low FG% and rebounds per game so far. Also, his scoring average, assists and steals per game are the lowest since his rookie year. He’s really only had four or five good games this season. Not all of that is his fault, since he has a smaller role in the offense and he’s been hurt, but the guy is not having a good season.

      • Feb 5, 20129:00 am
        by Max

        Reply

        Some have questioned how Stuck fits on this team and I would simply reply that they are much, much, much, much worse without him,

        • Feb 5, 201212:20 pm
          by Dan Feldman

          Reply

          Which is more an indictment of the rest of this team than praise for Stuckey. It’s sad how turnover-prone every other Pistons guard is. And when you must play two of the others together for extended minutes? Yikes. Turnover city.

          Stuckey has value to this team because he doesn’t turn the ball over much. But going forward — assuming Gordon isn’t a long-term contributor here and Knight cuts down on his turnovers with experience — that role isn’t nearly as important. Then, Stuckey must prove he can help the Pistons’ offense on the possessions they don’t turn it over by shooting efficiently and getting to the line consistently. So far, the results in that regard are mixed.

  • Feb 5, 20128:57 am
    by Max

    Reply

    You didn’t address anything I said and it is a total fallacy to compare stats from year to year to make a judgment on whether a player is playing well or more importantly is vital to his team’s success.  If a player’s role dictates for instance that he should do nothing but defend the hell out of his opponents without taking the unnecessary risk of going for steals for block shots, such a player may not even show in the box score, but he might vital to whether a team wins or not.
    When you focus on the opposite of team, which is individual player stats, you lose focus on whether a player producing numbers is even good for the team because production from one player is at the expense of opportunities for his teammates.   PPG and other stats are largely the result of a stratagem by a coach and there is many a player getting no minutes who can put up almost exactly the numbers of the player who is getting the minutes instead.
    Rodney Stuckey has been playing hurt this year and he has generally played in a new position with a new backcourt mate and a new emphasis on Monroe, for whom barely a play was run all of last season–Monroe got his points like a garbage man Cedric Ceballas without one play called for him the entire game more often than not,  You add all of that up and of course his numbers would be down but your remark does not address the fact the Pistons have been a poor to mediorce team when he starts and have been a historically bad team, maybe the worst of all time as they have managed just one win, when he does not.

    • Feb 5, 201212:34 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      “the Pistons have been a poor to mediorce team when he starts and have been a historically bad team, maybe the worst of all time as they have managed just one win, when he does not.”

      Correlation does not equal causation.

      By your logic, these are good players:
      James Jones — Heat are 5-1 when he starts and 12-5 otherwise
      C.J. Watson — Bulls are 3-0 when he starts and 17-6 otherwise

      And these are bad players:
      Zach Randolph — Grizzlies are 1-3 when he starts and 11-8 otherwise
      Dwayne Wade — Heat are 9-5 when he starts and 8-1 otherwise

      • Feb 6, 20121:09 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        both wade and randolph are very good players.  obviously.  but there are very specific and identifiable reasons why their teams might function better without them.  those reasons have more to do with how their individual skills fit into the team context, but to deny that their presence contributes to certain on-court problems ignores how teams function.
        while max’s way of putting it may be somewhat inelegant, i agree with his general view.  the pistons are pretty obviously worse when stuckey does not play.  without his presence, monroe is really the only player who consistently gets to the rim. jj and max and knight will occasionally get to the rim, but none puts the pressure on the defense like stuckey does.
        i don’t think it’s a coincidence that the team has not won a game when stuckey out of the lineup.   and the only game they’ve won when he didn’t start was the charlotte game, where he’d just come back from a few games off the previous game.

      • Feb 6, 20121:14 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        Are you actually being intellectually that dishonest where you would assert a valid principle of logic that doesn’t pass the eye test regarding the case in question?  In other words, do you actually think the Pistons haven’t been better when Stuckey has started and didn’t he obviously contribute to those wins?

  • Feb 6, 20122:56 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    i don’t know how anyone could watch the team play and not agree that it was a better team with stuckey.  there will always be issues about his proper role, but i don’t think there’s any question that the team is, overall, a better team.  
    imho, it’s not even arguable.

  • Feb 8, 201210:11 am
    by Robert

    Reply

    I feel like Walker Russell will be a great add to the roster and will only bring a energy to the team thats much needed. Lets go DP! Now lets work on getting some shooting guards and a Center. Now thats the key!!!! Come on Joe.

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