Omari Spellman looks like Warriors keeper with red-hot 3-point stroke


Omari Spellman looks like Warriors keeper with red-hot 3-point stroke

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The Warriors have been blessed with two of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Their incredible shooting has revolutionized the game in such a way that every player on the court now has to be able to guard all the way out to the 3-point line and beyond. Spacing is now a key piece to offensive strategy, and teams are reliant on multiple deep-threats on the court at any time.

The Warriors, in particular, always are in search of floor spacers, as defenses can key in on Curry and Thompson and shrink the court if teammates do not pose a threat from long range. In today's game, a big man as a 3-point shooter is the ultimate way to space the floor and open up lanes to the hoop.

With that in mind, the Warriors might have discovered a gem in Omari Spellman. 

After trading Damian Jones to the Hawks for Spellman in July, the Warriors immediately began a conditioning program for Omari that finally would get the big man in shape to unlock his potential. Throughout preseason and even the beginning of the regular season, Spellman would show glimpses of his unique skills, but ultimately would lose his touch due to tired legs and would miss his shots short.

He began the season shooting a poor three-for-15 from deep over his first 13 games played. But as his conditioning improved and his comfort level rose, Spellman's 3-point stroke came along for the ride. 

Since Nov. 19, Omari is shooting an incredible 48.4 percent from deep -- good for fourth in the NBA in that span. In the last six games, he has been extraordinary from distance, making 62.5 percent of his 3's while shooting a healthy volume of four attempts per game. He also is now shooting 43 percent from deep on the season (34 of 79), which is good for fourth among big men. 

Comparisons to Marreese Speights have been made, mostly regarding Spellman's physique and willingness to launch. But the truth is, Spellman has surpassed Speights (as a Warrior) already when it comes to long-distance shooting. In his best season with the Warriors, Speights shot 38.7 percent on 62 attempts. Spellman is blowing away those numbers already, and the team is only halfway through the season.

Once Speights joined the Clippers, he began shooting a heavier volume from deep. Speights put up 277 attempts in the 2016-17 season, making them at a respectable 37.2 percent rate. At his current pace, Spellman is trending towards shooting just under 200 3-pointers on the season. Moving forward, if Omari can maintain a percentage around 40 percent -- while shooting over 200 3-point attempts per season -- the Warriors will have struck gold.

[RELATED: Spellman criticizes Warriors' effort after eighth straight loss

The big question mark for Spellman will be how he can defend big men in the NBA. Omari has spent most of his basketball career as a power forward, but in today's game, he is probably more suited for a stretch-five role. If he can play adequate defense against opposing centers and use his athleticism to defend the pick-and-roll -- as well as protect the rim -- then not only does Spellman have a nice spot on the Warriors bench in the future, but he also might be a key piece for a team looking to return to title contention.  

NBA rumors: Ex-Warrior Quinn Cook changing number to honor Kobe Bryant

NBA rumors: Ex-Warrior Quinn Cook changing number to honor Kobe Bryant

Quinn Cook grew up in the Washington D.C. area worshipping the Los Angeles Lakers.

He loved Kobe Bryant.

So it's not a surprise that the former Warriors guard -- who signed a two-year contract with the Lakers last summer -- is honoring the NBA legend following Bryant's death:

Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were two of nine people who tragically died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash.

[RELATED: Why Kobe's death made Perkins want to end beef with Durant]

Cook and the rest of the basketball world will help ensure that their legacies live on forever.

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How Kobe Bryant's sudden death is first of its kind in wireless world

How Kobe Bryant's sudden death is first of its kind in wireless world

Most of us with an early love of sport were drawn to a particular athlete who touched us and became our first favorite. For me, that was Roberto Clemente.

Baseball was my first sports passion, inherited from my mother, who told stories of her youth in Louisiana, where several relatives were good enough to play in the Negro Leagues -- the only one available to them -- and make a buck while entertaining locals.

Growing up in Oakland, baseball meant choosing between the Giants and the A’s. I liked both, really, with a slight edge to the A’s. No one on either team captured my attention as Clemente did, even though he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2,500 miles away.

He captured my attention with his style and performance, and he maintained it with his intensity, which burned through the TV screen. He was fierce and clutch. Playing the game as if obsessed with getting all he could from it before it was taken away, he left no room to question how much it meant to him.

I pleaded for and received a Clemente bat, with the distinctive thick handle, and tried imitating his violent swing. I wanted a Clemente glove, which I did not get. Through it all, I read every page of every newspaper article or book that I could find. I still remember one sportswriter’s description of Clemente’s skin as “so tight it barely fits.”

So, when the news came on Dec. 31, 1972 that Clemente had been on a plane that dived into the Atlantic Ocean and was lost at sea, my naïve mind somehow imagined he could survive. That he would swim ashore. Not until a few days later, when reality set in, did I weep, along with all of baseball.

I later learned a few things. One, that Puerto Rico, as a nation, went from frantic to distraught. That day after day, for weeks, people would line up along shore to watch scuba divers scour the ocean. That one of Clemente’s teammates, catcher Manny Sanguillen was so hysterical that for three days he insisted on joining recovery efforts that never recovered Clemente’s remains.

I also learned that Clemente had, over a period of years, told numerous people he would die young. He was 38.

There was Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady on Monday, trying and failing to suppress his sobbing, saying Kobe Bryant had talked of dying young. He wanted to be immortalized.

Kobe was 41.

Died in an air disaster.

Was there ever any room to wonder how much competing meant to Kobe?

But 47 years later, the world is much different. Technology has made it a much closer place. Whereas Clemente’s sudden death hit specific areas exceedingly hard, Kobe’s death is the first of a superstar athlete dying, while still vibrant, in our wireless world.

It is that component that makes the sadness so massive. It is Day 4 and we still are reeling. All of us, to varying degrees. Businesses unaffiliated with sports are sending emails to employees notifying them of Kobe Remembrance days.

Have we ever seen so many men, from so many walks of life, shedding tears? Droplets streaming down the face of 7-foot-1, 350-pound Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe’s teammate with the Lakers for eight seasons. Jerry West, a certified legend and the man who ensured Kobe would be a Laker, blubbering “I don’t know if I can get over this.”

Players, coaches and fans wiping tears, a lump in every throat. Every pocket of the planet is shaken, every continent grieving. Never have so many sneakers been scribbled on, so many No. 8s and No. 24s gracing jerseys across so many sports. So many moments of silence in so many gyms. Kobe jerseys are being worn in China, in Europe, in Brazil, in Canada, even in Boston and Sacramento. Probably in Russia and certainly in Italy.

Nike, the largest athletic wear company on earth, has been raided of its Kobe apparel. All out. Orders must wait.

Kobe was known to billions. And the first favorite for millions.

The games go on, as Kobe would have demanded. The Warriors and 76ers played Tuesday night in Philadelphia, a few miles from where he was born.

Joel Embiid, who normally wears No. 21, asked permission to wear No. 24, which is retired as the number worn by Sixers legend Bobby Jones. Jones gave his OK. Embiid, who had not played in three weeks, scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Those numbers. Again.

“That was cool,” Embiid told reporters in Philadelphia. “I didn’t know it was actually 24 points as I shot that fadeaway. That was what he was about. I actually yelled, ‘Kobe!’ A lot of us, since I started playing basketball, that’s how we’ve always done it. You shoot something in the trash and you just go ‘Kobe!’ so that was cool.”

The shock is fading ever so slightly, giving way to heartfelt remembrances and testimonials, a futile effort to breathe life into a perished legend.

“A few days out, we’re able to reflect a little bit and think about Kobe’s career and his life,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“The reality that Kobe has passed gets a little bit more, for me, real,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “It’s final and the impact that he has had on our game ... really, it’s been interesting for me to see the connection that the basketball fraternity has, in an incredibly sad way, been forced to make. Everybody reaches out and there is a connection that you feel as a basketball world.

"It’s deeper than the NBA.”

[RELATED: Dubs' first game after Kobe's death doesn't ease pain]

Thousands continue to wander, at all hours, the area of downtown Los Angeles near Staples Center. They’re bringing flowers. They’re writing messages. They’re hugging. They’re crying. They’re staring at images of Kobe.

Los Angeles and the world in January 2020 are aching, just as my little corner of Oakland, along with all of Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico, were in January 1973.