Warriors

How Klay prepared Quinndary Weatherspoon for Warriors debut

Warriors
Weatherspoon

Quinndary Weatherspoon had 31 games of NBA experience under his belt, but arguably none of those contests with the San Antonio Spurs over the last two seasons carried the magnitude of the Warriors' clash with the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

The Warriors and Suns, the two best teams in the league, were the marquee matchup on the NBA's five-game Christmas Day schedule.

While the Suns were at full strength, the Warriors entered the game without Andre Iguodala (right knee soreness), Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Moses Moody (all four in health and safety protocol). Those absences caused Golden State to sign Weatherspoon to a 10-day contract via a hardship exemption on Thursday. He didn't play against the Memphis Grizzlies, but on Saturday, his services were needed.

In 14 minutes of action in the Warriors' 116-107 win, he scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field, grabbed one rebound, had one steal and blocked one shot. The 6-foot-3 guard also was asked to defend Devin Booker and Chris Paul, the Suns' dynamic backcourt duo. And he was ready for the challenge because of the work he has done recently helping a certain five-time NBA All-Star work his way back to the Warriors.

"I kind of figured I was going to have to guard those people because I've been working with Klay [Thompson] for three weeks now and he's been telling the organization how helping him and defending him to get him back better," Weatherspoon told reporters in Phoenix after the win. "So I kind of figured it was going to happen. I was just trying to stay ready, stay positive."

 

Thompson is nearing his return to the Warriors after missing the last 30 months while recovering from a torn left ACL and torn right Achilles. As part of the final stages of his rehab, he has been assigned to the G League Santa Cruz Warriors twice in the last few weeks to get work in. While Golden State was on the road, Thompson would head down to Santa Cruz to practice and scrimmage with Sea Dubs.

Not only did it help Thompson, but the practice reps benefitted Weatherspoon as well.

"Oh, they've been good, for me and for Klay, and the Santa Cruz team, just having him down, just being able to have him around and help him get better," Weatherspoon said. "So it's been good, it's been fun."

Steph Curry, who finished with a Christmas Day career-high 33 points in the win, had nothing but good things to say about Weatherspoon.

"You've got to be wired different to come into a situation like tonight and just show what you're about," Curry told reporters. "Defensively, he made some amazing plays, just being in the right place at the right time. Drove to the basket a couple times. Got to his spots and finished. He made his presence felt. That's 14 really good minutes, coming out of the G League straight into a Christmas Day game against the Suns. That's a big spot that he showed what he's about."

Despite just getting Weatherspoon on the roster, Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn't hesitate to put the 25-year-old into the game against defending Western Conference champions on national TV.

"I knew about him just because of his presence in Santa Cruz and I've watched him guarding Klay in scrimmages," Kerr said. "And one of the reasons we felt comfortable playing him was because of his defensive ability. We knew we were going to have to defend Devin Booker and Chris Paul on switches, and I thought Quinndary was fantastic, and he gave us some offense as well and bought us 14 minutes of rest for other guys too. So Quinndary was a big part of the win."

RELATED: Warriors' depth on display in win over Suns

The Warriors now have two days off before their next game at home against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. At this point, they don't know if they will have any of the five absent players back in the lineup. In the event that they still are shorthanded against the struggling Nuggets, Kerr now knows that he can count on Weatherspoon to give him 10-15 quality minutes.

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