Warriors

Kerr, Warriors about to take the training wheels off Jordan Bell

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AP

Kerr, Warriors about to take the training wheels off Jordan Bell

OAKLAND -- The tactical benching of Jordan Bell is being flushed into history, as it should be, as it must be when at least one of his Warriors teammates is publicly hinting it is time.

The head coach is in full agreement.

“I think we need to find Jordan a few more minutes here and there, where we can,” Steve Kerr said late Monday night. “He obviously brings a lot to the table.

“He needs to learn more, but he’s doing some good things while he’s out there.”

Kerr doubled down on Tuesday after practice.

“He’s earning more time,” he said of Bell. “He’s going to play some more. He’s a rookie. So he’s got to learn the league. He’s got to learn concepts. I’m bringing him along slowly. I’m really pleased with his production. You’ll see more of him coming up.”

That could happen as soon as Wednesday night, when the Warriors meet the Lakers in Los Angeles, down the road from Long Beach, where Bell grew up.

One thing for certain is he will not be inactive.

That’s progress. On six occasions this season, Bell has been placed on the inactive list despite excellent health. The 6-foot-8 forward/center spent those games sitting behind the Warriors bench studying the action and often engaging in conversation with assistant coach Chris DeMarco.

Bell was being “rookied,” treated like the brash new kid who happened to be joining a roster than won a championship without him. These were unsubtle reminders that the University of Oregon product has a lot to learn about the NBA game.

He’s learning fast, though, and it’s evident each time he steps onto the court. There are mistakes, to be sure, but there is an undeniable current of electricity running through Bell’s game.

In six first-half minutes Monday night, Bell produced 4 points (2-of-2 shooting), five rebounds and the obligatory highlight-reel blocked shot.

He did not take the court at all in the second half.

“I thought about it,” Kerr said. “But Draymond was going well.”

Draymond Green is Bell’s Yoda. Bell shares the veteran’s alacrity for defense and has a court awareness that approaches that of Green, who seems to see everything a split-second before it happens.

He’s seeing Bell becoming an impact player six weeks after entering the league.

Asked if Bell deserves more playing time, Green paused before responding, at first delicately.

“It’s not really my job to say, ‘Yeah, it’s time for Jordan to get more minutes.’ That ain’t on me,” Green said.

Green paused once more, ever so briefly, before dropping his thinly veiled opinion.

“What I will say is when he’s out there, he makes things happen,” he said. “Shaun (Livingston) and I were talking in the bench . . . he just gets out there and he makes plays. It’s not necessarily that he’s making a great pass, or whatever it is . . . but he just makes things happen. And usually that gets rewarded with more playing time.

“We’ll see. I’m not sure where it goes. But I know he definitely does great things when he’s out there.”

Bell’s player-efficiency rating (21.8) is fourth among the Warriors, behind Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and David West.

In Bell’s first and only start, last Friday against the Bulls, he responded with seven points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals -- and an astonishing six blocks, the most in the first start by a Warriors rookie since Robert Parish, now in the Hall of Fame, in 1977.

Bell was plus-20 over 26 minutes against the team that drafted him for the Warriors and picked up $3.5 million in the deal.

All of which is to say he’s ready for a heavier load, meaning some of his teammates will see their own minutes drop. If there is more Bell, there will be little less JaVale McGee and Kevon Looney and maybe a fraction less Zaza Pachulia.

There may be another game or three, depending on matchups and the health of the roster, where Bell will play little or not at all. But his current healthy-inactive percentage of 28.6 is now plummeting in the direction of zero.

Two Warriors named All-Star Game starters

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USATSI

Two Warriors named All-Star Game starters

After sending four players to the NBA All-Star Game last season in New Orleans, the Warriors are halfway to repeating the feat this season.

Point guard Stephen Curry and small forward Kevin Durant were voted in as Western Conference starters for the game scheduled for Feb. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the NBA announced on Thursday.

Though Curry has missed 15 games -- nearly one-third of the season -- it has not hurt his popularity; His No. 30 is the NBA’s best-selling jersey for the third straight season. He is averaging team-leading 27.7 points, 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds, and 1.65 steals per game.

Curry is the first member of the Warriors to be named a starter for five consecutive All-Star games. As the player with the most fan votes, Curry becomes a captain and is in position to select the members of his team.

Durant, who has missed eight games this season, was named as a starter for the sixth time, the first four coming when he was a member of the Thunder.

Durant is averaging 26.2 points (fifth in the league) 6.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.05 blocks (fourth in the league) per game.

Warriors remain relentlessly unmoved by misfortune

Warriors remain relentlessly unmoved by misfortune

The Golden State Warriors celebrated their first championship in 40 years by being condemned as “lucky” because they stayed healthy when most of their competitors did not. They missed 34 man-games to injury and/or rest, fewer than any other contender by a significant amount, and this was cited as one of the ways that the Warriors didn’t actually win the title as the other training rooms lost them.
 
This is, of course, idiocy of the first magnitude, As we have lectured before, “luck” of this kind is like any other form of luck – it is to be welcomed, no matter how much it may offend people who prefer their sports to be conceptual rather than real.
 
Put another way, there are no asterisks on the trophy in Joe Lacob’s foyer.
 
That argument cannot be made this year – well, it can, but not if you want to be correct.
 
Jordan Bell’s ankle issue is the latest annoyance in a season of them, and the Warriors’ core rotational players have missed a higher percentage of games this year than in any of the other three (15 percent, rather than five in 2015, eight in 2016 and 10 in 2017).
 
What this means is that their superior depth is being challenged as never before, but that’s really all it means. They endure the loss of one of their main players quite well, in fact. Without Stephen Curry, they are 12-3, 14-4 over the past two seasons and 20-6 through three; without Kevin Durant, 7-1 this year 25-5 over the last two; without Draymond Green, 7-0, 12-1. Only Klay Thompson (0-1 this year, 1-3 last year, 6-6 since 2015) seems to bother them.
 
That’s 52-16 without at least one member of the Gang of Four.
 
But it does mean few minutes and games off for Andre Iguodala and David West and Shaun Livingston, and more minutes than ever for Kevon Looney. It plays a bit of mischief with Steve Kerr’s rotations, but he’s an adult and has an army of fellow thinkers to make any required adjustments.
 
In short, waste no worry, pity or scorn on them. They remain relentlessly unmoved by misfortune or pain.
 
But at least this year, they’re having some of each, if only to silence those who still want to think, if only for their own amusement, that things have been improperly easy for them.