Legend of Patrick McCaw already growing within Warriors' camp

Legend of Patrick McCaw already growing within Warriors' camp

OAKLAND – Always on the hyperactive prowl, seeking action, Warriors CEO Joe Lacob didn’t need to be persuaded to spend $2.4 million to buy his way into the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft.

Four days after seeing his team lose the NBA Finals – blowing a 3-1 series lead – Lacob grabbed his checkbook and filled out a check to the Milwaukee Bucks.

That’s how Patrick McCaw became a Warrior.

Discovered by vice president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk and assistant general manager Larry Harris, McCaw was selected 38th overall on June 23.

“Everyone was excited when we had the opportunity to get him,” general manager Bob Myers recalled to CSNBayArea.com on Monday. “He was a name that had been discussed. We didn’t have to guess who we were taking. There were a lot of McCaw fans in the room.”

Little more than three months later, the Legend of Patrick McCaw already is growing.

“He’s got a lot of promise,” Stephen Curry said of the rookie. “He’s going to help us this year for sure. I like his confidence. He doesn’t say much; he’s very quiet. But when you see his body language, he looks like he belongs. That’s half the battle.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who over the summer told CSNBayArea.com that McCaw had a chance to make the team’s regular playing rotation, on Monday said it’s “very uncommon” for a rookie to have such a sense of space and movement.

“But some guys just have that feel, instinctively, naturally,” Kerr said. “You don’t even have to teach them. Some guys have feel, some guys don’t. The first time you see them play, it’s easy to tell. That’s been the case with him.”

McCaw was the most impressive Warrior in their preseason opener Saturday night, coming off the bench to produce 11 points, five steals and four assists in 19 minutes. The 6-foot-7, 185-pound guard from UNLV looks capable of playing either guard spot and exhibited strong defensive chops.

“Pat played really well, to no surprise,” Draymond Green said. “Pat’s been playing well in training camp and already had a great summer league. He really understands the game. As this season continues on . . . I think he’s going to help us out a lot.”

Said Kevin Durant: “He’s really good. He’s got a nice feel for the game. He doesn’t get rattled out there. He doesn’t let anybody speed him up. And he’s really good with his hands. We’re going to need him to keep playing that way.”

For McCaw, his solid first impressions are an outgrowth maintaining a balance between confidence and humility. He fully believes in his ability, but has plenty of room in his mind for criticism and growth.

The St. Louis native wasn’t an AAU star. He wasn’t a 5-star recruit or even a spectacular summer camp discovery.

“I wasn’t going to those showcases that other kids were going to in seventh and eighth grade, getting their names out there that early” he said. “I was one of those kids, just a local kid, working with my dad, continuing to hone my talent. Over the years, I just continued to get better. I stayed in the gym and stayed consistent. That’s what got me here.”

McCaw’s father, Jeffery McCaw Sr. is a major influence, as is former UNLV star Stacey Augmon, whose defensive intensity can be seen in the rookie. McCaw carries a bit of a chip on his shoulder from not being highly recruited.

“I’m one of those kids you really don’t know about, and it’s still that way,” he said. “It’s always probably going to be that way until people start to realize that I know and understand the game. That’s just always been part of my life. I’ve always been an underdog. I’ve always been under the radar. And I’ve always had to prove myself. So that’s a role I’m going to continue to take.”

If such attitude sounds familiar, think back a few years to another Warriors second-round pick. A guy named Draymond Green, taken 35th overall in 2012, who has blossomed into an All-Star.

“If he turns out as good as Draymond,” Myers said, “then we’ll have something.”

DeMarcus Cousins finally solves Oracle Arena riddle in win over Pacers

DeMarcus Cousins finally solves Oracle Arena riddle in win over Pacers

OAKLAND - A little more than a week ago in a Toyota Center hallway, DeMarcus Cousins was having a hard time solving a riddle. 

Following a 27-point, eight-rebound performance against the Rockets, Cousins was still facing a conundrum. 

"For some reason, I can't just have a good game at Oracle, I don't know what it is," Cousins said on March 13. "But I'm sure it'll happen eventually." 

Entering Thursday's matchup against the Pacers, Cousins averaged nearly six more points on the road than his home output, shooting less than 37 percent from the field. However, in a 112-89 demolition of Indiana, Cousins, for the moment, beat the meager odds, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. 

"DeMarcus was fantastic," head coach Steve Kerr said. "He was physical in there, getting a lot of drives to the hoop, drawing a lot of attention defensively and making great passes." 

When the Warriors signed Cousins, then recovering from an Achilles tear, the hope was for the former All-Star to give the champs an element it hasn't seen during its run: An offensive-minded center who can dominate down low. Remnants of that promise was seen Thursday evening, as Cousins scored 13 points in the first half, helping Golden State shoot 51 percent from the field. 

"The dude is amazing," Stephen Curry said. "He did it all different ways in terms of inside, outside. Put pressure on their bigs to have to make decisions."

Since Cousins returned more than two months ago, he's seen both the highs and lows of an Achilles rehab. Those lows have typically coincided with home outings. Entering Thursday, he averaged 12.5 points on just 36 percent shooting from the field, compared to 18.5 points on 54.7 percent shooting away from Oakland. 

Perhaps Indiana is an appropriate team for the man they call 'Boogie' to find his groove. Two months ago against the Pacers, in just his fifth game back in the lineup, he scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half, punishing Indiana's frontline, giving a glimpse of the levels Golden State could reach. 

"It's just a different dimension for us that we've never had," Kerr said. "We did play through David West on the low-block the last couple years, but it's different when DeMarcus gets going downhill, with shooters around him, he's just a force."

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For the last two months, the Warriors have been searching for ways to integrate the talented center, and for the time being, the two sides seems to be clicking. Over his last five games, Cousins is averaging 19 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists.

"I love playing with DeMarcus." Klay Thompson said. "He sets great screens, he catches everything you throw at him and he's just an amazing presence out there with his toughness and competitiveness and he's going to be such a big part of what we do in the playoffs."

Warriors summoning their ruthless defense at precisely the right time

Warriors summoning their ruthless defense at precisely the right time

OAKLAND – Not for a minute were the Warriors truly worried. Perplexed, maybe, but never concerned about finding the best of themselves. Even as they were stacking up shoddy defensive performances, inviting layups and open 3-pointers, they always knew.

Always knew that when the bright lights began twinkling in the distance, they’d muscle up.

So now, with the postseason three weeks away, they’re energizing their defense and getting serious about suffocating opponents.

The latest example came Thursday night, when the Warriors harassed the Pacers back to Indiana with raw backsides and a 112-89 loss for their time in Oakland. Indiana shot 24 percent in the first quarter, 32.7 percent in the first half and 38.9 percent in the third quarter, by which time the crowd at Oracle Arena was dancing and sipping and celebrating a 28-point lead.

For a team playing its third game in four nights, across two zones, this was profoundly impressive.

“Our energy was great; everybody was engaged,” assistant coach and defensive coordinator Ron Adams said. “And our spirit was the best I’ve seen in a long time.”

Adams acknowledged the efforts and Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins but was particularly pleased with the defensive intensity displayed by Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Durant set a tone with three first-quarter blocks and Curry limited Indiana point guard Cory Joseph to 1-of-7 shooting.

Indiana shot 50 percent shooting in a garbage-time fourth quarter to lift its field-goal percentage to 38.5 for the game.

“They forced us to take some tough (shots), especially when they did some late-clock switching,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said. “We were forced to take some contested shots, and they didn’t go in and then that’s what they thrive off of. When you take a bad shot, they either get a leak out or they’ll push the break in transition and get 3s.”

A pattern is developing.

The Warriors have spent the past five games harassing offenses to the brink of despair. Nine days ago in Houston, they limited the Rockets to 26.8 percent shooting from deep, which is their core offense. Last Saturday in Oklahoma City, the Thunder shot 32.3 overall. The Spurs shot 46.6 percent Monday in San Antonio and the Timberwolves shot 40.4 percent Tuesday in Minneapolis.

The Warriors prior to the last five games were 15th in the NBA in defensive rating (109.2), causing worry lines to form within the fan base. Over the past five games, they are third (100.6) – and No. 1 in the Western Conference.

No worries.

“It’s really been fun to see,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re more engaged and active.”

The Warriors started dismantling the Pacers by outscoring them 18-10 over the final 5:03 of the first half and took them completely apart by opening the second half with a 17-3 run to build a 70-48 lead with 5:58 left in the third quarter.

“You have to give their defense a lot of credit,” said Indiana assistant coach Dan Burke, who took over for Nate McMillan, who is temporarily away for family reasons. “They have so much flexibility and versatility, and that switching is like a stoplight for us.

“We can’t allow that to happen. We have to move the ball. We are not an iso team. We played like there were a lot of mismatches there. I didn’t see very many mismatches.”

Andrew Bogut, who received a standing ovation upon his return to Oracle after nearly three years, offered a succinct and accurate analysis: “We made them take bad shots in the half court, late in the shot clock and turned them over.”

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Indy’s starters shot 28.6 percent (14-of-49) from the field. The Warriors forced 16 turnovers, off which they scored 21 points.

With 11 games remaining, the defending champs are turning ruthless. They’re finding their edge, the one they’ll need beginning the second weekend in April.

The team Warriors fans have been waiting for is materializing before us.