How rookies Jackson-Davis and Podziemski have earned Warriors’ respect

Golden State Warriors rookies Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski are making immediate impact

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski aren’t like previous Warriors rookies. Unlike most rookies, who are raw athletes that teams hope to mold into NBA players, these two are NBA-ready.

Coach Steve Kerr has not shied away from playing in crucial situations. When Draymond Green was out, he had Jackson-Davis guard Denver’s MVP center Nikola Jokic, and he has occasionally used Podziemski as a third-string guard to facilitate the offense and provide a youthful spark.

“They’re ready,” Kerr said after the close loss to Denver. “We’ll throw them out there in any situation.”

Jackson-Davis, 23, is a four-year college player from Indiana who learned the value of creating shots for outside shooters as a big under coach Mike Woodson. That is a skill that most of the Warriors’ big men have possessed throughout the dynasty, dating back to the days of Andrew Bogut.

Jackson-Davis has quickly adapted to the Warriors’ ball movement, but at 6-foot-9, he also provides some size in the paint as a scorer. He isn’t exactly rubbing shoulders with the league’s 7-footers, but he has made an impact on the scoring end of the pick-and-roll.

In New Orleans, he came within one rebound of a double-double. If he gets a double-double, he’ll get rid of the “Baby T” moniker given to him by Warriors veterans. And while teammates praised his defense on Jokic in Denver, Jackson-Davis was even more pleased with an offensive possession in which he spun away from Jokic at the top of the arc for an easy bucket.

Jackson-Davis has 27 points and five blocks in 60 minutes of action over seven games, and the Warriors are plus-35 with him on the floor.

“I love Trayce’s game,” Klay Thompson said during a visit to Denver. “He’ll be in the NBA for a long time.” He’s prepared. He is currently capable. We got a steal late in the second (round). He’ll be a huge help to us all year.”

The Warriors could use some depth in the frontcourt behind Green and Kevon Looney, so Jackson-Davis’ usage could increase as the season progresses. Meanwhile, Podziemski is digging his way out of a buried backcourt depth chart. The 20-year-old from Santa Clara has been playing ahead of Cory Joseph, the team’s third-string guard who was signed in the offseason.

Podziemski drew some draft attention while at Santa Clara, primarily for his 43.8% 3-point shooting, but he’s provided a spark off the bench for the Warriors with his high-flying rebounds and savvy assists. In 51 minutes of action over five games, he has 15 rebounds and eight assists, and the Warriors are plus-34 in his minutes.

Because neither rookie is a rotation regular, they will be traveling back and forth from Santa Cruz to get playing time with the G League team. However, the Warriors’ veterans have stated that they enjoy having the rookies around not only for their play, but also for their energy.

Green publicly demanded the rookies’ return to the NBA team when they were shipped to Santa Cruz for the start of the Warriors’ lengthy road trip two weeks ago.

“The energy that they bring to this team – we missed that,” Green said after a hard-fought victory in Oklahoma City. “We need those guys next time we have an in-season tournament game because they bring a lot of juice for us.”

“You’re always talking about how young guys bring energy. That is their responsibility. However, we don’t need to tell those guys to bring energy. They do it every day. I wasn’t surprised that our energy wasn’t there because they are the guys who boost our energy, and they weren’t here.”

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