Programming note: Watch the NBA Finals pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m., streaming live on the MyTeams app.
Kevon Looney registered 12 points, 14 rebounds, one steal and one block in the Golden State Warriors' Game 4 Western Conference finals win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
After the victory, head coach Steve Kerr said something quite powerful.
“Looney has become one of our foundational pieces," he told reporters.
Kevon Looney. Foundational piece.
Let that sink in.
Two months after the Warriors selected the UCLA product with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, he underwent surgery on his right hip.
Then in April 2016, he had surgery on his left hip.
In late October 2017, the Dubs elected to decline his $2.23 million option for the 2018-19 season, which put Looney's future in the NBA very much in jeopardy.
But things started to click in Year 3 and he seemingly always produced when Kerr called his number. By the end of last season, Looney was playing so well that it looked like he had become too expensive for the Warriors to retain.
Unfortunately for Looney, he didn't receive any offers in free agency and he returned to the Dubs on a minimum deal.
This season, the 23-year old averaged career highs in minutes (18.5), points (6.3), field goal percentage (62.5), rebounds (5.2) and assists (1.5).
During the playoffs, he's averaging 7.5 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting over 72 percent overall and 80 percent from the free throw line.
And his ability to defend guards in isolation has made him invaluable.
“To be called a foundational piece, I never would’ve believed that,” Looney said to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “Even when I was playing pretty good last season, I never would’ve taken it that far.”
Earlier this year, Looney's alma mater -- Hamilton High School in Milwaukee -- held a ceremony to retire his jersey. Yes, the big man grew up in Milwaukee and there's a chance the Warriors face his hometown Bucks in the NBA Finals.
What a special homecoming that would be for the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent.
"We have a lot of summer priorities," Golden State general manager Bob Myers told The Athletic. "I don’t know if you can have seven or eight priorities.
"But he’s a priority.”