How Warriors' Omari Spellman's shooting touch was improved by haircut

How Warriors' Omari Spellman's shooting touch was improved by haircut

SALT LAKE CITY -- Throughout his young tenure for the Warriors, Omari Spellman has been scouring the Bay Area for the perfect haircut. 

In the last four months, his mission has failed, as his travels through San Francisco and the East Bay have disappointed, forcing him to abstain from cuts altogether in protest. 

"I was out here living foul," he admitted Friday evening.

The trend changed during a recent trip to Memphis when he reached out to Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson, who put him in touch with a barber in the area to cut his hair on Monday evening. Since the chop, Spellman is shooting nearly 60 percent from 3-point range, giving the big man a newfound faith.  

"I got a haircut and I got more confident," Spellman said. "So I've just been letting them go." 

The latest example of Spellman's assurance came in Friday's loss to the Jazz. Seven minutes into the first quarter, he dunked over seven-footer Rudy Gobert. Six minutes later, he faced up against Jazz forward Joe Ingles on the right-wing and splashed a contested mid-range jumper.

With Golden down 21 points a minute into the fourth quarter, he hit a 3-pointer in transition, spearheading a 37-23 quarter from the Warriors, in which they cut the lead to single digits in the final minute. By the end of the night, he had accumulated 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 28 minutes. 

Friday's outing capped a road trip in which Spellman averaged 10.5 points, shooting 48 percent from the field, including 56.3 percent from beyond the arc. 

The shooting touch isn't new. In his lone collegiate season at Villanova, he led the Wildcats in 3-point shooting, shooting 43.3 percent from deep. However, he has struggled this season from the field, making just 38 percent of his shots through 15 games. While Spellman credits his crisper edge up for his recent good fortune, the reality is his shooting mechanics have been adjusted.

After being acquired in a trade last summer, Warriors coach Steve Kerr observed that while the nimble big man had a nice touch, his shot was flat, causing frequent misses.    

"He wasn't giving the shot a chance," Kerr said.

The conundrum forced Spellman to work on getting more lift on his jump shot, a routine that's starting to find its way onto the court. 

"I think the last two games something has clicked," Kerr added. "He's shooting it on the way up. It's a great sign because it gives us a dimension that we haven't had since Mo Speights." 

While Kerr's final sentence was a compliment to Spellman, it comes with a caveat. Four years ago, Speights became an integral piece to Golden State's championship run in 2015, shooting 48 percent from the field, becoming a spark off the bench, to the point the team -- featuring Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- would run plays for the big man.

By the time his tenure in Golden State was complete, he became a fan favorite, earning the nickname "Mo Buckets." Listed at 6-foot-8, 253 pounds, Spellman mirrors the body type and game of Speights, garnering comparisons to the former Warrior, much to his chagrin. 

"I've seen it, heard it, but I'm just trying to be myself," Spellman revealed to NBC Sports Bay Area. "Just trying to be O, I don't want to be Mo." 

"Mo is a great player. No disrespect to Mo Speights at all," he continued. "But if I can, I want to be better than Mo Speights. And I'm pretty sure he would tell me the same thing. I'm pretty sure he would tell me the same thing like 'bro, you don't want to be me. Your goal should be to be better than me.' So I don't want to be Mo Speights."  

As Spellman continues his career with the Warriors, there is one quality he'd like to share with Speights: Being a contributor on a winning team. At the moment, his team -- with half its roster injured, including Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry -- have postponed those plans until at least next season, as they now stand with a 3-14 record.

Nonetheless, the Warriors clearly see Spellman as part of the future, picking up his team option last month. 

[RELATED: What we learned as Warriors nearly come back vs. Jazz]

For his part, the big man's trajectory should continue to ascend, as long as a barber is nearby. 

"I had to get a cut," he said. "Changed my whole confidence. My whole aura is different."

Warriors vs. 76ers live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV


Warriors vs. 76ers live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV

The Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers will play a basketball game tonight at Wells Fargo Arena, but the action on the court likely won’t be at the forefront of the minds of those in attendance.

Tuesday night’s game marks the first NBA game in Philadelphia since the tragic passing of former Lakers star and basketball icon Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash this past Sunday. Kobe was born in the City of Brotherly Love and starred at nearby Lower Merion High School during his prep career.

Warriors guard Jacob Evans was recalled from the G League on Monday and could take the court for Golden State. 76ers center Joel Embiid is listed as questionable with a hand injury.

[RELATED: Steph posts stirring tributes to Kobe on Twitter, Instagram]

Here’s how you can watch Warriors-76ers on NBC Sports Bay Area:

When: Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 4:00 p.m. PT, pregame begins at 3:00 p.m.
TV channel: NBC Sports Bay Area
Live stream: MyTeams App

Live stream all your Warriors games and get the latest news and analysis on the MyTeams App.

Warriors vs. 76ers watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage


Warriors vs. 76ers watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

The Warriors enter Tuesday's matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers with an urge to win, but a heavy heart in the wake of Kobe Bryant's sudden death. 

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 3:00 p.m., with tipoff from Chase Center scheduled for 4:00 pm.

Golden State's latest quest for victory comes in Bryant's hometown, against the team his dad -- Joe "JellyBean" Bryant -- spent four seasons with. Bryant shared a bond with several Warriors, including Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Following Bryant's last game at Oracle Arena, the Lakers forward gave Green his game-worn pair of sneakers, writing "make history" along the toebox. 

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors-Sixers tonight]

Now, two days removed from Bryant's death, the Warriors hope to make sure they have enough focus to snap a 3-game losing streak. 


G Glenn Robinson III
F Draymond Green
C Marquese Chriss
G Damion Lee
G D'Angelo Russell

F Matisse Thybulle
F Tobias Harris
C Al Horford
G Shake Milton
G Ben Simmons


Warriors:  Stephen Curry (left-hand fracture), Kevon Looney (left abdominal soreness), Klay Thompson (left ACL rehabilitation), Ky Bowman (NBA two-way), Alen Smailigic (G-League assignment) Kevon Looney (Left Abdominal Soreness) are out.

Sixers: Joel Embiid  (Left Hand; Surgery), Zhaire Smith (Left Ankle; Sprain), are questionable. Josh Richardson (Left hamstring strain)


Warriors: Through 47 games, the Warriors have used 22 different starting lineups, compared to 20 total last season. Alec Burks has continued his scoring binge, reaching double figures in 26 of his last 29 games, averaging 16.5 points per game over the span. Meanwhile, Damion Lee has struggled since signing his multi-year deal, averaging just 8.4 points per game since January 15th. D'Angelo Russell is averaging 29 points per game over his last four appearances. With Willie Cauley-Stein traded to Dallas, Marquese Chriss should continue his role in the starting lineup. 

Sixers:  Ben Simmons has been on a tear. Last week, he averaged 23.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.1 assists, earning Eastern Conference Player of the Week along the way. Simmons' tear comes as big man Joel Embiid rehabs a knee injury. Since Embiid's injury, Simmons has averaged nearly a triple-double during the span. Despite Embiid's absence, Philadelphia's frontcourt is still stout, with Al Horford's presence promising to cause Golden State problems.  

Officials: Scott Foster (#48), Mark Lindsay (#29), Derek Richardson (#63)