The season of player development is in full-swing for the Warriors, as the roster becomes more injury-riddled and depleted as each game passes.
At a league-worst 2-12, the Warriors are relying on rookies and inexperienced young players to try to dig them out of an inevitable hole. While the expectations are quite low for team success, the organization is paying close attention to how their youthful roster is progressing and developing as the season goes along. With much of the focus on Eric Paschall's promising future and Jordan Poole's shooting struggles, two-way rookie Ky Bowman is starting to turn some heads as well.
This season, Bowman is shooting a respectable 46 percent from the field, and 38 percent from deep. Concerns about his outside shooting were one of the reasons he went undrafted, so it is clear that Bowman has been putting in extra work to improve in that area. If he can consistently be a threat from long-range, his offensive game will expand greatly, and the Warriors will feel comfortable playing him in a wider array of lineups once the team is healthier.
However, when the stars are back on the court, Bowman will need to adapt and make an impact in a limited bench role, a position he might find himself in a lot if he were to have a long NBA career.
Like most basketball players, at any level, when Bowman knows he is going to play more minutes in a game, his confidence grows and his numbers reflect that. In the four games D'Angelo Russell missed due to injury, Bowman averaged 35 minutes per game, assuming the starting role in all but one game. In the four games, Bowman averaged 15.5 points while shooting 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range.
Without Curry, Russell and Thompson, the coaching staff clearly gave Bowman the green light to attack and fire away on offense when he saw fit. Bowman's ability to flip a switch and be an efficient scoring, starting guard when needed is a great attribute that many backup players don't have. But being able to play efficient and effective basketball when the minutes are hard to come by will be the difference for Bowman.
In eight games where Bowman played 15 minutes or less, he is shooting 33 percent from field, as well as from deep. In those games, Bowman has eight assists and five turnovers, good for a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
When the roster is healthy, Bowman will not be relied upon to put up large scoring totals. Instead, he will be asked to be a spark plug, pushing the tempo in transition and most importantly, playing with energy and effort on defense. Shooting efficiently will be more important than volume, and limiting turnovers will be expected rather than high assist rates.
Most NBA players find it harder to simplify their game and limit mistakes, rather than play like they have their whole lives, as one of the focal points of their teams.
Playing in a limited role alongside stars will be a learning process that Bowman will not get for a majority of this season, however. There is an obvious opportunity for player development as the Warriors' rookies play big minutes in place of the injured veterans, but it will come at a cost.
When the time comes and the roster is back to full strength, expectations will change dramatically and winning will take precedence over development. Over the last few years, the Warriors' championship aspirations have curtailed the development of players like Pat McCaw and Jordan Bell.
It will be up to Bowman to adopt all that he has learned this season into a smaller bench role. If he is able to do that, he has the skills and abilities to be a successful NBA player for many years to come.