Rookies impressed, but need minutes to develop, Kerr says
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After missing both Draymond Green and Gary Payton II in their previous game, the Warriors expect both defensive stalwarts to return to the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. PT.
Green did not play in the Warriors’ 105-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday due to personal reasons that the team did not disclose.
Payton was listed as questionable for the game but did not participate due to illness. On Friday, both players were back on the court with the team at Chase Center.
“I’m fine guys, I’m fine, it’s just a 24-hour bug,” Payton explained. “That is the prognosis. “Get over it and move on.”
Payton said his body is feeling good after missing much of last season with a core muscle issue, and he hasn’t had any setbacks in his recovery.
Payton has been a standout early in the season, with his superior defense frequently earning him late-game minutes. Despite ranking eighth in the team’s first nine games, he’s tied for the team lead with 13 steals.
As the Warriors’ second unit continues to impress, Payton’s plus-57 differential when he’s on the floor is second only to Chris Paul’s plus-63.
“Just come out there with good energy and force and cause havoc,” Payton went on to say. “When compared to other second units in the league, our IQ in that second unit is pretty tough.” Just trying to outwit the second unit and build while keeping the ball moving and having enough space and connectivity.”
Rookies travel to Santa Cruz.
The Warriors’ rookies have impressed, but Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandy Podziemski have been assigned to the team’s G League affiliate for their season opener in Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz Warriors, led by Steve Kerr’s son, Nick, kicked off their season on Friday night, with both rookies set to play.
Kerr stated that the decision to demote them was not based on their performance, but rather on their need for development.
“It’s mostly just reps,” said Steve Kerr. “I think it’s a nice change of pace for them to go from a 10- or 12-minute stint with us to, ‘hey, here’s 30 or 35 minutes.'” It’s beneficial to their conditioning, rhythm, and skill set.
“One thing Brandin discovered in summer league is that the game moves much faster than in college.” He’s already adjusted to the NBA level, but he now gets 30-plus minutes of that in the G League, working on his speed and skill. And we want to win now that my son is in charge.”
Podziemski, 20, has 10 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and four turnovers in 46 minutes this season, while Jackson-Davis, 23, has 26 points and 16 rebounds while shooting 60% from the field in 55 minutes.
Jackson-Davis, a 6-foot-9 rookie from Indiana, has provided the Warriors with much-needed size in the early going.
“He gives us a little something different from our other bigs in terms of being a lob threat,” Kerr told reporters. “He’s up there in terms of verticality at the rim.” (Kevon) Looney and Draymond (Green) are both excellent rim protectors, but this time is different. It’s more about positioning and power. And Trace has more elevation to go with that verticality. It does make a difference. It gives us a new perspective. We’re having a lot of fun playing Trace.”
Wiggins is not a cause for concern.
Andrew Wiggins has struggled early on, averaging just 11 points and four rebounds while shooting 40% from the field and 15% from 3-point range.
Kerr isn’t worried.
“I’m seeing Andrew look much better physically the last couple games,” he said.”His on-ball defense has been outstanding.” He’s on his way. I’m not concerned about him in the least. He has a proven track record. This is his tenth year in the league. We know what Wiggs is capable of. The fact that he’s looking really good defensively on the ball indicates that his conditioning is solid. “I believe the rhythm will emerge.”
Long final stretch
The Warriors’ unusual season began with eight games in eight different cities following their home opener.
They’ve returned to San Francisco and have four home games in the next ten days.
“We’ll get a little more rest, a little more practice time, so we should sharpen up,” he said. “I believe we’ve had one real practice in the last ten days.” We’re seeing a lot of things on tape that we need to improve on both ends, such as execution, details in some of the things we run offensively, and details within the defensive schemes. “It’s like anything else; you need practice time to get it right.”