Atlantic Notes: Russell, Hayward, Sixers

As the Nets continue developing their young players, Brian Lewis of The New York Post has identified a key development of the season so far in D’Angelo Russell‘s lack of crunch-time minutes.

As Lewis points out, Russell sat out the last 5:42 of regulation and the entire overtime in the Nets’ win over the Pistons, logged just 1:31 in the fourth quarter on Oct. 24 against the Cavaliers, and never got off the bench in the fourth quarter of the season opener. That is all in addition to Russell not seeing a single minute in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ loss to the Rockets on Friday.

It’s no secret that Russell struggles on defense, but it’s more of a result of the depth on the roster and coach Kenny Atkinson’s focus on riding the hot hands and playing lineups based on match-ups. In fact, every Nets starter other than Caris LeVert has sat an entire or essentially all of a fourth quarter this season.

The key might be for Atkinson to figure out a way to get Russell on the floor alongside Spencer Dinwiddie and LeVert, a trio that has not had success up until this point.

There are still plenty of opportunities left for Russell to make plays when it matters most, but this trend is one to keep an eye on as Russell approaches restricted free agency and the Nets look to make a marquee signing this summer.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

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