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.