After getting a rude “Welcome to the NBA” facial from Rockets guard Eric Gordon in his debut Tuesday night, Warriors rookie Jordan Bell stands to get a more legitimate baptism Friday night in New Orleans.
That’s where Pelicans All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will be waiting, eager to abuse the new guy.
With starting power forward Draymond Green listed as doubtful with a strained left knee -- MRI test results were negative -- Bell can expect significant minutes when the Warriors and Pelicans meet at Smoothie King Center.
Aware Green’s availability is in question, Bell sees what’s ahead in Davis and Cousins, as they both possess skills that rank among the top five big men.
“I’m definitely excited about that,” Bell said Wednesday. “(They are) some of the best bigs in the league, so I’m definitely excited to get tested against that.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr generally avoids tinkering with his set rotations, in which case David West and JaVale McGee would continue to come off the bench at center. Of the other “bigs” on the roster, Bell is most likely to start if Green is unable.
Bell played 12 minutes in the opener, and they were in slots that typically go to McGee, who never left the bench against Houston. Citing the matchups created by the Rockets’ smallish lineups, Kerr opted for the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Bell over the 7-foot, 270-pound McGee.
That will change Friday, regardless of Green’s status, as both Bell and McGee will be needed against Davis and Cousins, both of whom possess wing spans over 7 feet. Only Bell is suited to play power forward or center, and the staff is coaching him at both positions.
“At the 4, I have to be more of a facilitator, like (Green) is,” Bell said. “Some plays (Kerr) has me doing the same things Draymond does. Sometimes he has me bring the ball up in practice. Calling plays, putting me in positions on the elbows to make the right pass, make the right read.
“When I’m at the 5, I have to be more of an aggressor, a more physical guy on the court, focusing on rebounding and finishing around the rim.”
It’s exceedingly rare for a second-round draft pick to start a game in his first week as an NBA player. The Warriors believe Bell can handle it. So in the case of Green being held out, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the rookie’s name is called.