OAKLAND – After scoring 16 points and draining a season-high four 3-pointers, impressive offensive numbers by any reasonable measure, Jonas Jerebko sat at the podium and opened a window into his psyche.
“I’m still sitting here thinking about the three I missed,” he said.
To clarify, Jerebko had moved past the four triples he made to indulge in self-torture over the three he missed Monday night in the Warriors’ 110-93 win over Memphis.
This snapshot at least partly explains Jerebko’s transformation from rangy slasher as a 22-year-old rookie for the Pistons to a deep-shooting 31-year-old sniper for the Warriors. It is a product of years of toil and gallons of perspiration.
“I credit it all to my work in the summers, just putting in a lot of time trying to become a shooter,” Jerebko said. “I feel like obviously you can always keep working, and I will, but I feel real comfortable shooting that 3.”
The Warriors could not be more thankful. They finally have in Jerebko the stretch-4 they’ve craved since Marreese Speights was sacrificed in the July 2016 purge that made room for Kevin Durant.
Moreover, Jerebko’s presence -- along with that of Quinn Cook and Alfonzo McKinnie -- ensures that the Warriors’ bench no longer is the 3-point shooting desert of years past.
The Warriors last season ranked last in the NBA in 3-point attempts and makes off the bench. They were 28th (among 30 teams) in 3-point shooting percentage. The Nick Young and Omri Casspi experiment had its moments but was not as consistently productive as the front office had hoped.
The Warriors this season rank 29th in 3-point attempts and 27th in makes, but they are No. 1 in percentage, with Jerebko, Cook and McKinnie doing most of the work. Cook was signed late season, Jerebko signed as a free agent in July and McKinnie earned a roster spot with a strong training camp.
The starters are happy to co-sign on this development.
“Our message night in and night out is if you’re open, shoot the ball,” Stephen Curry said. “Don’t second-guess anything. You’re out there for a reason. If you get good shots then have confidence and take them.”
Jerebko and the others are following that directive. He’s 37-of-96 (38.5 percent) from deep, Cook is 37-of-85 (43.5) and McKinnie is 20-of-48 (41.7). The Warriors are on pace to get more than 250 triples from three reserves for the first time in team history.
When the Warriors reached out to Jerebko after he was waived by the Jazz, the Sweden native listened to Kerr’s sales pitch and bought in, telling his agent, Bill Duffy, not to bother checking with other teams.
While McKinnie’s athleticism and versatility make him an overall improvement over Young, Jerebko size and various skills have allowed him to provide much more than the Warriors got from Casspi last season.
Kerr joked about Casspi’s reluctance to shoot as a Warrior – he took 12 shots in 21 minutes for the Grizzlies Monday night – but admitted the bench production this season is much healthier
“For whatever reason, (Casspi) didn’t shoot threes last year,” Kerr said. “And this year we’ve got some guys that are more willing to shoot.”
McKinnie is as much of a presence in the paint as on the perimeter. Jerebko has been a more complete player than anticipated.
“Jonas is much more than just a catch-and-shoot player,” Kevin Durant said. “He rebounds well, he can drive and make plays. He can pass.
“With the firepower at the wings and just the scoring that we have in the frontcourt, I think he’s relegated to always spacing and catching and shooting. But when you see him in space, he is dribbling up the court, he’s finishing in transition, he can shoot the hook shot in the lane. He’s playing a great game, as far as surveying and seeing what needs to be done.”
On Monday night, it was scoring, Jerebko scored in double figures for the 11th time in 31 games this season. He’s on pace to far exceed the numbers of Speights, he had 19 such games in his last season as a Warrior.
The Warriors are paying Jerebko $2.18 million this season. It has been a steal.