Shortly after the Warriors practiced Saturday, coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers met with several players, one of them being Mychal Mulder, who entered training camp on the distant end of the roster.
Kerr and Myers explained that Mulder, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard who signed a 10-day contract in February, had made the roster. He was “ecstatic,” and even “shed a few tears.”
They then laid out Mulder’s role: Cold-blooded shooter. Emphasis on “cold.”
Shooting ability kept him on the roster, and it will dictate whether he stays.
“We really liked him a year ago,” Kerr said. “He was able to step in and play at a moment’s notice and knock down shots and defend and understand the game plan. We love Mike. There's a reason he's still standing.”
Though Mulder earned a $200,000 bonus for making the opening-night roster, he remains at the bottom of the depth chart. He’s behind Damion Lee and Jordan Poole, both of whom are behind Kent Bazemore, who is behind starter Kelly Oubre Jr.
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Opportunities for Mulder to play early in the season will be rare. He won’t have the luxury of warming up and finding rhythm. He’ll have to come off the bench cold and make an impact.
“I know it's my job to be able to come in and make shots, bring great energy, play great defense, be a great team, a great teammate to the rest of the guys,” Mulder said. “I don’t think anything has changed in that regard. I’ve just got to be myself and just keep working hard every day to create the best version of myself and see where that takes it.”
After coming out of Kentucky in 2017 and spending three years in the G League, Mulder made his NBA debut in February. In seven games with the Warriors, he made enough of an impression – mostly through shooting – for the team to sign him a three-year, partially guaranteed contract.
Mulder scored in double figures in five of the seven games. He shot 0-of-12 from deep in his first and last games, 16-of-40 (40.0 percent) in the other five.
And now, he’s a reserve shooting specialist on a team expected to make a vast improvement over last season. He plans to follow the D-Lee script of "staying ready" to respond when called.
“It’s about not being comfortable,” said Mulder, a native of Windsor, Ontario. “I’m happy to be here today, and it's my job to continue to do what I can to be around tomorrow. I'm excited to attack it, just like that, the same way I've been attacked in this opportunity the whole time, and obviously do my absolute best to make the most of it.”
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Despite the talk of defense and energy and understanding game plans, Mulder gets minutes only if he makes shots. Under challenging conditions, he’ll have to show he can.