Warriors

/ by Grant Liffmann
Presented By OutsiderObservationsBMW
Warriors

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors roster is in flux this preseason with many positions up for grabs in open competition.

In Saturday's first preseason game against the Lakers, there weren't any players that made a big enough impact to bring any clarity to these position battles.

With the Minnesota Timberwolves in town to face the Warriors for the second preseason game Thursday at Chase Center, some players have an opportunity to take a step forward in securing an important role for the team.

Here are some players to watch that right in the middle of these battles:

Alfonzo McKinnie

In a matter of a week, the talk about Zo has gonna from being the favorite to land the starting small forward spot, to possibly being cut from the team in order to sign a big man.

Is it all talk? Possibly. But McKinnie needs to step up and make his impact felt if he plans on becoming a cemented piece in the rotation. In order to help his own cause, McKinnie will have to exhibit solid defense, attack the offensive (and defensive) glass with his elite rebounding skill and most importantly, hit some 3-pointers.

The Warriors are not expecting McKinnie to become an All-Star at the wing position, but they do need a serviceable small forward they can rely on. At this point, perhaps he does not even need to be a net positive on the court, he just can't be a negative.

 

That is where the bar currently is set.

Marquese Chriss

Chriss quickly has gone from an afterthought training camp signing to the reason why McKinnie might lose his roster spot.

With Willie Cauley-Stein hurt and Kevon Looney hobbled, the opportunity is there for Chriss to seize. He did a little bit of everything against the Lakers on Saturday, which reportedly led some players to secretly pitch giving him a roster spot.

Immaturity and off-court issues have plagued Chriss early in his career, but he has shown up to the Warriors as a humbled young man looking for a second chance. The talent absolutely is there. Chriss is a 6'10" athletic big that can shoot from anywhere on the court.

Keep a close eye on him against the T-Wolves. Everyone in the Warriors organization will be too.

Jordan Poole

He was the story of the first preseason game, and some times the hardest thing for a rookie to do is stay consistently effective. The Warriors are looking for a player to be willing and able to fire away from deep, and Poole provided that against the Lakers.

It is unfair to ask any current Warrior to replace Klay Thompson, but the role of shooter and spacer from the two-guard position is up for grabs.

There will be even more focus on Poole on Thursday, so he will have to show that he can replicate his productivity while garnering more attention.

Glenn Robinson III

If Chriss is the spotlighted reason that McKinnie could be looking over his shoulder, then GR3's impact on the decision definitely is flying under the radar.

Cutting Robinson would not help the Warriors' cap situation as he has a guaranteed contract this season. But if he were able to step up and show the front office and coaches that he can make a real impact from the wing position, then they would feel a lot more comfortable with idea of splitting with McKinnie.

So far, Robinson has not done anything to impress yet. It will be up to him to assert himself and make plays on the court that can justify a spot in the wing rotation.

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Jacob Evans III

The surprise dark horse in the competition for the opening night small forward, Evans is trying to prove that unlike his quiet demeanor, his impact on the court can be loud.

He took the first step in the right direction against the Lakers, shooting with confidence while playing assertive basketball. While Evans was being groomed to be a point guard type during the offseason, there is a much more glaring need at the wing position. He originally was drafted to be a player that can guard multiple positions while being able to hit an open triple. If he can do exactly that now he will find time in the rotation.

 

Like McKinnie and Robinson, the opportunity is there for Evans to make his mark in the preseason games, and show Steve Kerr that he not only belongs, but also that he is important to the team's success.