Warriors

Rookie Jordan Bell on a slow growth program with Warriors

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AP

Rookie Jordan Bell on a slow growth program with Warriors

OAKLAND -- Even as Dub Nation falls in love with Jordan Bell, and there has been a lot to love, the rookie remains on probation with the Warriors.

If this seems unfair, well, it is. There are, however, reasons for this status.

The Warriors marvel at Bell’s “wow” snapshots while putting up staggering production in scant minutes. He does amazingly athletic things some of the team’s veterans no longer can while others know they never could.

He also does things that come natural to someone eight games into his NBA career, which is why the cultivation of Bell is somewhat similar to the way NFL Super Bowl coaches bring along a talented rookie quarterback. No matter how good he looks in part-time duty, there is no rush to push out those fresh off earning a championship. Until there is, giving Bell a few minutes here and there is most sensible plan.

“He can get a lot done in a game playing the way he plays now,” Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams said of Bell on a recent Warriors Insider Podcast.

Adams was quick to add that Bell, in time, can be so much more.

“It’s a work in progress,” Adams said. “But he’s so innately skilled -- he has a mind for the game of seeing things early, much like Draymond (Green), much like Andre (Iguodala) -- so he’s able to be effective now, as he learns on the fly.”

Learns on the fly is not what a championship team is looking for while trying to establish a rhythm early in a new season.

Coach Steve Kerr, who consistently expresses his belief in Bell while also tempering expectations, didn’t flinch when asked over the weekend if Bell might be in line for more playing time.

“He doesn’t have a regular rotational spot yet,” Kerr told reporters in Denver. “I don’t think he’s there yet.”

Bell has been playing mostly at center, where Zaza Pachulia starts before giving way to JaVale McGee and David West. Bell has played some important minutes, though, occasionally sharing the floor with the some of team’s established All-Stars.

The idea is to give Bell meaningful minutes when prudent as well as late-game action as he makes his way through his rookie season.

“Part of (this approach) is we are the defending champs and we’ve got everybody back, pretty much,” Kerr said. “JaVale deserves minutes and so does David West. JB is not ready to step in for those guys.

“I look at him as a relief pitcher, a situational, lefty-on-lefty type of thing. If I see a moment where this makes sense, we’ll put JB out there and see what he can do.”

Bell’s stats are impressive. His 123.2 offensive rating is second on the team, behind only McGee (127.2) and Stephen Curry (125.5), while his defensive rating of 93.9 is tops on the Warriors. He’s shooting 70.8 percent from the field with per-36-minutes averages of 16.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals.

The most rookie-like number: 7.4 fouls per 36 minutes.

It’s apparent that Kerr and his staff are still experimenting with playing rotations, which can differ from game to game, based on several factors. When Bell is active, which should be most of the time, he’s likely to get playing time.

But on a veteran team with a championship pedigree, this gifted rookie is best handled with care, acknowledging his progress while providing encouragement through mistakes.

Gameday: Two Warriors All-Stars out for Friday's game vs Bulls

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USATSI

Gameday: Two Warriors All-Stars out for Friday's game vs Bulls

The Warriors will be without their starting forwards Friday night when they return to Oracle Arena not only to face the struggling Chicago Bulls but also in search of good habits.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30, with tipoff scheduled for 7:35.

Kevin Durant is out with a sprained ankle and Draymond Green will be resting.

The Warriors (13-5) are coming off a 2-2 road trip during which they blew a 17-point third-quarter lead in one of the losses and had to overcome a 24-point third-quarter deficit to earn one of the victories.

The rebuilding Bulls (3-13) are concluding a four-game swing through the Western Conference, having lost the first three games by an average of 15.7 points.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 15.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Omri Casspi & Co. vs. Lauri Markkanen: Markkanen has been one of the few bright spots for the Bulls this season. The 7-foot rookie from Arizona shares the team lead in scoring at 14.6 points per game, while leading in rebounds at 8.3 per game. The only Chicago rookies to score more points in their first 16 games are Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose and Elton Brand. With Green and Durant out, the task of defending Markkanen falls to Casspi, who will start at one forward, with rookie Jordan Bell also taking a few turns.

INJURY LIST

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L ankle sprain) and F Draymond Green (rest) are listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Bulls: G Zach LaVine (L ACL rehab), F Nikola Mirotic (facial fractures), G David Nwaba (R ankle sprain) and G Cameron Payne (R foot surgery) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Bulls: 2-8.

GAME OFFICIALS

Bennie Adams (lead), Mark Ayotte and JT Orr.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams split the two-game series last season, each winning on its home court. The Warriors have won five of the last eight overall and 14 of the last 18 in Oakland.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE INTENSITY METER: The Warriors believe, justifiably, that their biggest worry is about themselves. When they’re properly focused, they are the best team in the NBA. When they are not, they are susceptible to most any quality team. Insofar as Chicago doesn’t appear pose an explicit challenge, the Warriors must not only manufacture intensity but also maintain it.

KEEP ‘EM OFF THE LINE: The Bulls are dead last in the NBA in offensive rating (94.4), field-goal percentage (41.0), field goals made per game (35.7). The one thing they do well is shoot free throws, which they shoot at a league-leading 92.9 percent. The Warriors can be prone to fouls (only eight teams commit more), so they’ll have to play it smart against this opponent.

THE BENCH BUNCH: With Durant and Green out, along with this being the second game of a four-games-in-six-nights stretch, the Warriors will have to lean on their bench, which has been quite good. Its 54-percent shooting leads the league, as is its 4.2 blocks per game. The net rating 10.2 is second in the NBA.

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

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AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.