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.