Kerr: Jordan Bell fighting to crack rotation, will play vs 'certain matchups'


Kerr: Jordan Bell fighting to crack rotation, will play vs 'certain matchups'

OAKLAND -- It was about this time last year, maybe a bit earlier, when Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he would absolutely be comfortable putting rookie guard Patrick McCaw, a second-round draft pick, into an NBA game.

Kerr now acknowledges he has, for the second consecutive season, a rookie second-round pick ready to contribute to the Warriors.

That would be forward/center Jordan Bell.

“Yeah, I’ll put him out there for certain matchups,” Kerr said Wednesday after practice.

“I wouldn’t say that he’s going to be in the rotation, because he’s got a lot of guys ahead of him who are very good players. But certain matchups, I’ll put him out there.”

If you’ve seen much of Bell, you can understand why. The Oregon product impressed during the Las Vegas Summer League and has made an impact in the team’s three preseason games.

In 24 minutes this preseason, Bell has totaled 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Moreover -- and this is particularly significant for a rookie with a penchant for blocking shots -- he has been whistled for only one foul.

“He’s got a pretty high defensive IQ right now, just knowing where to be and being aggressive,” Stephen Curry said of Bell. “His confidence is almost how Pat looked last year in preseason, when you knew he was a gamer. Whenever he had an opportunity to impact the game in the preseason, he was ready for that moment.”

Yet Bell is, at best, the fifth-string big man on a defending championship team. He’s behind four men who had key roles in the Warriors winning a championship last season: starting center Zaza Pachulia, death-squad center (and starting power forward) Draymond Green and backups David West and JaVale McGee.

Second-year man Damian Jones and Bell would be next in line for minutes, and Bell has been appreciably more effective.

Of the four veterans, it is Green that Bell most closely mirrors. Green is 6-foot-7 at most, Bell about 6-8. Both are skilled passers with good court awareness that improves to great on the defensive end. Each is an undersized power forward with the necessary tools to play “big” in Kerr’s uptempo system

During the Warriors’ 142-110 rout of Minnesota in Shanghai on Sunday, Bell played only seven minutes yet submitted 11 points (5-of-5 from the field, 1-of-1 from the line), adding two steals, a rebound and a block.

“The game in Shanghai was a clinic of defensive awareness, aggressiveness and decisiveness on that end of the floor that got us a couple stops,” Curry summarized. “He got a couple steals, and was in the right place at the right time on the offensive end to finish some possessions.”

Kerr pulled Bell aside after the game to lavish praise while adding a dollop of advice.

“What I told Jordan after the game was that he was great. He was fantastic and he made the most of his minutes,” Kerr said. “I said the game changed in the third quarter when Draymond decided to bring that intensity and energy that he brings for us. You might remember we made 4-5 stops in a row, and Draymond was pressuring the ball and had that look in his eye.”

That’s where Kerr explained to Bell what he wants from the rookie, stressing intensity and focus. In essence, he wants Bell to follow the example set by Green.

Which is perfectly fine with Bell. After all, it was couple years ago that Green replaced LeBron James as Bell’s favorite NBA player.

Casspi defends his spot on Warriors, explains why he's not worried about being cut


Casspi defends his spot on Warriors, explains why he's not worried about being cut

OAKLAND -- Like much of the NBA and everyone with an interest in the Warriors, Omri Casspi has watched the emergence of Quinn Cook, who came out of the G-League and is making a strong bid to make the postseason roster.

Casspi, out since spraining his right ankle last Friday against Sacramento, happens to be at or near the top of the list of the tiny group of players that might be dropped should the Warriors decide to add Cook.

The 6-foot-9 veteran forward has heard the chatter.

“First of all, it’s you guys talking,” Casspi said, referring to media. “I don’t really feel it from the organization. At the end of the day, I’m focused on getting healthy and playing. That’s all I can control.

“I feel like the team needs me and know what I can do for the team. My focus is on getting healthy and playing.”

The Warriors have until April 11 to submit their playoff roster.

Casspi’s roster spot is in danger for three reasons.

One, he has lost confidence in his long-distance shooting, which was influential in the team’s decision to sign him to a one-year minimum contract last July.

Two, his defense has been a glaring weakness, with teams attacking him at every opportunity.

Three, he had fallen out of the rotation when the team was fully healthy and didn’t return until after succession of injuries. Casspi exceeded 10 minutes of playing time in only one of the 12 games before injuries to several teammates became a factor.

Stephen Curry’s ankle woes this season, along with Cook’s impressive play, are making a persuasive argument for adding the third-year point guard.

For now, Casspi is determined to get back on court after missing the last two games.

“With my role on this team, when I’m healthy I want to go out there and play, maybe not 100 percent healthy, but close to it,” he said. “That’s what I’m focused on, on feeling good and running up and down and being able to cut and move and be out there again with the guys.”

As Warriors inch closer to full health, Kerr provides update on Durant, Klay


As Warriors inch closer to full health, Kerr provides update on Durant, Klay

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all worked up sweat Wednesday, putting the Warriors ever closer to being whole again.

Only Draymond Green did not full participate in the non-contact practice session, but he’s expected back in a matter of days.

So while the Warriors are a little more than a week away from possibly having the full squad available, they’re starting to feel a little less vulnerable.

“They’re all kind of day-to-day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Steph is closer to playing than KD and Klay.”

Curry has not played since March 8, when he tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle. He missed the last six games. Durant (rib cartilage injury) and Thompson (right thumb sprain) sustained their injuries on March 11 at Minnesota, though Durant played one more game, March 14, before receiving a diagnosis. Durant missed the last three games, Thompson the last four.

Green sustained a pelvic contusion Monday night at San Antonio, but believes he will be available this weekend, either Friday against Atlanta or Sunday against Utah.

Curry, though, is fully cleared for all activities.

“Steph looks great,” Kerr said. “He’s chomping at the bit. But we’ll see how he responds in the next couple days before we decide whether he plays or not.”

Durant loathes acknowledging pain or injuries, and his return will be dictated by his ability with withstanding the contact inevitable in the course of a game.

“I don’t expect KD to play this week,” Kerr said. “It’s not like a timetable . . . just sort of a feel thing. It’s symptomatic with him.”

Thompson seems, at this point, the furthest away from full activity.

“Klay did some stuff," Kerr said, “but not full participation.”