Warriors

Why JTA felt 'destined' to sign standard contract with Dubs

Warriors
Juan Toscano-Anderson

Oakland is home to Juan Toscano-Anderson. 

It has been his entire life, as he grew up on 95th Avenue in East Oakland. It wouldn't matter if he was living there or pursuing his basketball dreams elsewhere -- Oakland was always home.

Similarly, Toscano-Anderson has always been a Warrior, since he was part of the organization's youth program in the third grade. It wouldn't matter if he was or wasn't a member of the team, he would always consider himself a Warrior. 

But as of Thursday morning, Toscano-Anderson is an official member of the Warriors -- and still an Oakland resident -- as he signed a standard, multiyear contract with Golden State.

"I'm super excited, obviously for myself to be on the team and continue to play basketball, but this is a life-changing contract. A life-changing signature," Toscano-Anderson said in a Zoom press conference Thursday evening.

"I'm sure there were some more opportunities out there for me, but this is home for me. Steve (Kerr) has never made me feel like I was on a two-way. None of the coaches, none of my teammates ... they really made me feel a part of this. ... I love it here. I love the Bay, I love the Warriors."

As Toscano-Anderson said, the team never treated him as a two-way player because of what he brought to the court. But he was one. And Toscano-Anderson used that as constant motivation to be at his best.

 
RELATED: JTA shares heartfelt moment with mom after contract signing

But even with his guaranteed contract, he knows it doesn't mean he can slack off. If anything, the real work starts now. 

"I feel like there's more that I need to do," Toscano-Anderson said. "I need to raise the bar. I always said ... I wanted to be a guy who establishes himself in this league and is not just here for preseason or a 10-day or a call-up. That's the first step, I've gotten through the first step to put myself in a situation to be here for another year, so now I'm working to continue and have longevity in this league."

You don't have to look deep to figure out why the Warriors decided to convert Toscano-Anderson's two-way contract to a standard one.

The 28-year-old has become a key rotation player for the Warriors, averaging 8.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals over the last 13 games, while shooting 63 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from deep in 29 minutes per game. But what he brings to this team extends far beyond what the stat sheet shows. 

"He’s done everything we’ve asked and more," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "He just brings that energy and juice to every moment that he comes into the game. Obviously a smart, smart player. Tough. I thought he changed the game the other night in the second quarter with his emotion. You know, just really taking on the competitive challenge that was needed."

Toscano-Anderson contains a similar fire to that of Draymond Green, who's considered the heartbeat of the team. He tries to impact the game the same way Green does -- by doing a bit of everything. And Toscano-Anderson has a similar tenacity, grit and hustle. Take the instance where Toscano-Anderson cracked his head open on a dive to save a possession in the April 15 game against the Boston Celtics as evidence. 

That is the Oakland seeping out of Toscano-Anderson's pores. 

Toscano-Anderson was introduced to basketball, specifically Warriors basketball when Wilhelmina Attles -- wife of Warriors legend Al Attles and Toscano-Anderson's former teacher at Stonehurst Elementary School -- got him involved with the Warriors' youth program. She also helped him get on the Oakland Rebels’ AAU basketball team.

Toscano-Anderson grew up attending Warriors' games at Oracle Arena. Every time he walked into that building, he got a taste of what he wanted his future to be. 

"I always wanted to walk onto that court donning an NBA jersey," Toscano-Anderson said. "I never imagined it being a Warrior jersey. So, the Warriors themselves, for what they are, they've given me dreams. They've given me an idea of where I wanted to be in my life and what I wanted to do."

As Toscano-Anderson said, he didn't ever believe he'd play for the same team he grew up cheering on. Sure, he made up those scenarios in his head but didn't think they'd become reality. Especially as he set out to start his career.

 

Toscano-Anderson didn't receive interest from any NBA teams coming out of college. He played overseas, joining the Mexican national basketball team in 2016 at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and then in Mexico and Venezuela from 2016 to 2018.

Ahead of the 2018-19 season, he decided to go to the open tryouts being hosted by the G League Santa Cruz Warriors. A few lucky ones would be invited to training camp with a chance to join the roster.

He made about $2,000 a month with Santa Cruz. But it didn't matter to Toscano-Anderson. 

"I was enjoying basketball, and that's what I do this for, to just enjoy the game," Toscano-Anderson said. "Enjoy this journey that basketball and life have taken me on. I passed up on a few offers (overseas) and I'm glad I did ... I'm glad I did everything my way."

There were times people told Toscano-Anderson he made the wrong decision by going to the G League. There were others who said he shouldn't have gone to training camp with the Warriors last year because they didn't have an open roster spot.

"I still did it all my way," Toscano-Anderson said. "And at the end of the day, when it's all said and done, even if I fail, I can always look myself in the mirror and say I did it Juan's way. I'm super proud of that."

RELATED: How JTA will celebrate his new contract

As Toscano-Anderson said, money has never been the driving factor for him. But at the same time, knowing he is about to be making the most money he has ever made in his life, is a nice thought. 

He's ready to pay it back to his mother -- the woman who gave him everything -- and pay it forward to his siblings. He plans on starting with getting his brother a car for his 16th birthday. 

Doing these things for his family, and simply the time he gets to spend with them, are the biggest things Toscano-Anderson had to sacrifice when he went and played overseas. 

Now, just knowing that he can provide for his family and stay close to them is just the icing on the cake to signing his contract.

"I feel like this situation is just destined," he said. "It's God-sent for sure. Because there is nowhere better than home, playing for the home team. I get to enjoy everything I get to do with my family. Once I leave Chase Center, I can drive across that bridge and go straight home and celebrate all of this with my family. And actually, that's what I'm about to go do."

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