Finally healthy, Looney relishing chance to rediscover potential

Finally healthy, Looney relishing chance to rediscover potential

Editor's Note: The above video is from Oct. 15, 2016.

PHOENIX – Kevon Looney was the last Warrior off the practice court early Saturday evening, trudging off only after sprinting himself to the brink of exhaustion.

He’s never been so giddy about working so hard.

That’s because, finally, he can. The second-year forward, still only 20, is excited to push himself toward his physical limits without his body screaming in protest.

Asked how long it has been since he felt this healthy on the court, Looney paused for a few seconds.

“I would probably say my senior year of high school,” he told CSNBayArea.com.

It shows. Coming off the bench in the second half Friday night in New Orleans, Looney made a positive impact at both ends. Playing only seven hyperactive minutes, he totaled 4 points, three rebounds, two assists – and a sparkling plus-13 on the stat sheet.

“We went to him just because of the circumstances,” Kerr said afterward, noting that his rotation changed because Draymond Green was in foul trouble and rookie guard Pat McCaw was injured in the first half.

“It seems like every time we’ve thrown Looney out there . . . he’s gotten the job done,” Kerr added. “He’s one of those guys, he doesn’t look that fast and doesn’t look like he jumps very high. But he knows what he’s doing and he makes plays.”

Looney was a McDonald’s All-America recruit out of Hamilton High in Milwaukee. He fell in love with UCLA, partly because of its tradition and partly because it was an escape from the harsh Wisconsin winters.

Shortly after arriving on campus, Looney made one false step and his hip yelped. He played through it well enough as a freshman to be chosen by the Warriors in the first round of the 2015 draft knowing the UCLA product might need a physical makeover.

The thinking, as conveyed by general manager Bob Myers, was that Looney was a lottery pick talent devalued by his medical report. The Warriors, with nearly everybody back from a championship team, were willing to be patient.

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip two months after the draft and eight months later, last April, had surgery on his left hip. He missed all but 21 minutes of his rookie season.

He literally had to re-learn how to walk and run. Twice.

And now he’s learning to live with the good health most NBA players take for granted.

“I feel more confident now than I did before, when I was playing with the injury, even in college,” Looney said. “I was scared to dribble and change directions because it would hurt to do it.”

Looney is trying to get his muscles and mind to remember what he once did as routine. Closing out hard on defense, for example. He hesitated at UCLA because he was afraid to tweak his hip. His comfort with dribbling increases a bit each day, and his natural shooting stroke is starting to resurface.

For what it’s worth, Looney in high school was perceived as similar at that level to one of his new teammates. A former MVP and four-time scoring champ. A guy named Kevin Durant. The long body, the longer wingspan and the shooting range surely were factors in that unfair comparison.

Though Looney is a long way from Durant, and realistically will not get to that level, he is OK with that. He’s occupied with seeing how high and how long he can go with his new and improved body.

“Being out so long, it takes a long time to get back,” Looney said. “Even if your body feels good, you still have to get your game legs and get used to the physical impact of traveling. It’s going to take a while to get used to.

“But the hardest part is over. Now it’s just about getting back my feel and working on the things I shied away from.”

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.