Warriors

Warriors

Programming note: Watch the NBA Finals pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday at 4 p.m., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

On June 25, 2015, the Warriors selected Kevon Looney with the No. 30 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Less than two months later, Looney underwent surgery on his right hip.

He ended up appearing in five games with Golden State and 12 games with the Santa Cruz Warriors before his rookie season was cut short following surgery on his left hip on April 22, 2016.

The UCLA product then appeared in just 53 games in his second professional season and was inactive for every 2017 playoff game.

Fast forward to today and he's an indispensable big man off the bench. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr recently referred to Looney as a "foundational piece" and a "cornerstone."

He doesn't rise to this level without finally taking Andre Iguodala's advice and revamping his diet. He also doesn't become this successful without a little tough love from Draymond Green.

Ethan Strauss of The Athletic has the details:

“I was a rookie, and I was hurt, coming into practice around 10:30 a.m.,” Looney recalled. “I couldn’t do anything. I was on crutches. Draymond came up to me, and said, “Whatchu’ doing?!’”

In that moment, it seemed like Looney might get some sympathy, or perhaps a reassurance that he could go home and rest up. He was in pain and the team seemed fine without him. That wasn’t the focus of Draymond’s concerns, though. Instead, the All-Star berated the rookie, bellowing, “You should have been here an hour ago!”

“That stuck with me this whole time,” Looney says of his now legendary work ethic. “After that, I always tried to be first every day, get some work in, take care of my body. When the coaches tell you to work hard, be there at 9 o’clock, make sure to be early. If you’re not early, you’re late.”

How awesome is that?

These are the kinds of stories that help explain how the Warriors have built such a strong culture.

These are the kinds of anecdotes that help us understand why people like Draymond are such effective leaders.

 

And now that Looney's hip issues are hopefully a thing of the past, he should keep getting better and better.

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“Having the hip surgery and then still having the pain with it, I was kind of scared jumping off one leg, jumping off two feet,” Looney told The Athletic. “I was scared to be explosive. After I lost some weight and got really healthy, I got more athletic and healthy every year, more confident every year.

"They tell you, you play like I did with your hips being wrong your whole life, you’ve got a lot of untapped potential, a lot of untapped athleticism. Hopefully that’s true and I can find it.”

And the Warriors hope they will be able to retain the soon-to-be free agent in July.

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