D'Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell is thankful the Lakers traded him away (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Nets are winning basketball games. A phrase that we haven’t heard in a long time. As Brooklyn heads into the All-Star break, the Nets are actually one game over .500. Who could have predicted the Nets would be in the playoff race with a record of 30-29. One of the reasons for those improvements probably starts with D’Angelo Russell. The vast improvement from Russell even earned him a trip to the All-Star Game.

Russell’s stock has gone through the roof since he was traded from the Lakers to the Nets. The former 2nd overall pick is thankful the Lakers traded him. He also added salt to the wound when he talked about the young Lakers dealing with blocking out trade rumors:

“I can’t imagine what they’re trying to block out,” Russell says Via B/R. Later, he adds: “If [the Lakers] didn’t let me go then, they were gonna let me go now, and I’d be going through what they’re going through. Best thing that happened in my career.”

The Lakers traded Russell in order to clear Timofey Mozgov’s contract. In return, the Lakers acquired the Brook Lopez expiring and 27th pick in the draft. While the Lakers were probably stupid to let Lopez go, but landing Kyle Kuzma with the 27th pick was a true diamond in the rough for LA. I’m sure the Lakers would make the trade again if they had to so they can keep their cap space.

Russell does have a point. His production has gone through the roof since leaving LA. Russell, 22, is averaging 20.3 points per game on .436 percent shooting. Those are career highs. Maybe the Lakers are just the issue. Julius Randle has also experienced a similar type of improvement on a smaller scale.