SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time Marquese Chriss played the Kings, he got cut. He sat in the stands of Golden 1 Center on Jan. 6, 15 miles from his childhood home, contemplating his future.
"So much for hometown feeling," he joked Tuesday night after the Warriors' 112-94 loss to the Kings.
His release came under unique circumstances. The Warriors were up against the hard cap after signing Damion Lee to a multi-year contract, and they needed to waive Chriss to make space. Golden State didn't want to lose the talented big man, re-signing him to a two-way contract just over a week after his release.
Fast forward a month, and Chriss is living up to the promise the Warriors saw in his game. He finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes Tuesday, continuing a strong run. Chriss has now averaged 18.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in his last five games.
Chriss was on the NBA's fringes when he signed with the Warriors last summer. Now, he's entrenched in their long-term plans.
"He's strung together a really good couple of months here for us and is playing with a lot of energy and confidence, and he was great again tonight," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the loss.
The 22-year-old showed how much his game has grown early against the Kings. Four minutes into the game, he jammed an alley-oop finish off a pass from teammate Andrew Wiggins. About a minute later, he ran the floor, waved his hand high above his head before receiving pass and dunking on the fastbreak. Chris poured in 13 first-half points with the Warriors badly in need of scoring, adding five rebounds.
Easy buckets for Marquese 😤 pic.twitter.com/RS37qxEOYP— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 26, 2020
Chriss grew up 20 miles from the Kings' original Sacramento home at Arco Arena in nearby Elk Grove. Chriss started watching his hometown team upon the arrival of forward Rudy Gay, coming to his own on the hardwood during Gay's first full season in Sacramento in 2014-15. Chriss averaged 21.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks as a senior at Pleasant Grove High School, earning a scholarship to the University of Washington.
Now, Chriss relishes the chance to play against his hometown team.
"I enjoy playing them," he said. "Playing against a team where I'm from and having people from home being able to watch on the local channel, and they can support me."
"I approach it like any other game," he added. "I don't really look at it any different because of where I'm from. I just go out there and do my job to the best of my ability."
Chriss has entrenched himself in the Warriors' future plans and earned his teammates' trust along the way. He won't repeat that feeling from last month any time soon.
"I feel like Marquese has definitely proven himself," Warriors forward Eric Paschall said. "I'm very happy for him, and I feel like he continues to get better every day."