Warriors

Sabrina Ionescu channels Steph Curry with half-court shot, shimmy celebration

Sabrina Ionescu channels Steph Curry with half-court shot, shimmy celebration

Sabrina Ionescu has been chomping at the bit to get back on the court.

The Walnut Creek native had her historic college career at Oregon abruptly ended due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the WNBA season also was pushed back. But Ionescu, who was drafted No. 1 overall by the New York Liberty, is slated to make her professional debut July 25 against the Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm as the WNBA prepares to begin its season.

The quarantine hasn't made Ionescu rusty as the WNBA posted a video of the Oregon product channeling her inner Steph Curry by hitting a half-court shot and then celebrating with a shimmy.

Of course, the Warriors liked what they saw.

Ionescu has become close with Curry over the past year, a relationship that's great for the future growth of the women's game around the world. Curry even tried to get Ionescu to sign a shoe deal with Under Amour, but Ducks are ever-loyal to The Swoosh, and Ionescu signed with Nike.

[RELATED: Ionescu's legacy can transcend WNBA, end of Oregon career]

Ionescu finished her illustrious career at Oregon as the only player in Division I history, men's or women's, to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. She swept the National Player of the Year Awards and finished her career as the all-time NCAA triple-doubles leader. Her presence at Oregon altered the trajectory of an Oregon program that had been lackluster before her arrival. Now, coach Kelly Graves has the Ducks humming on the recruiting trail and Ionescu's Oregon legacy will be felt for decades.

Her college career in the rearview, Ionescu now will turn her attention to helping turn around the Liberty, who went 10-24 last season and will be without rising star Asia Durr, who tested positive for coronavirus.

The Liberty will be Ionescu's show, and there's no doubt Curry will be watching.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

What Kirk Lacob cares about most with Andrew Wiggins' Warriors role

What Kirk Lacob cares about most with Andrew Wiggins' Warriors role

When the Warriors acquired Andrew Wiggins from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the NBA trade deadline in February, they filled a position of need.

And now the basketball world is anxious to see how the 6-foot-7 small forward fits in alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

So what are the realistic expectations for Wiggins next season?

"I just want to see him play the game in a way that helps us win," Golden State's executive VP of basketball operations Kirk Lacob said Thursday on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast. "We know he's a talented basketball player. Nobody is going to argue that. Can he bring those talents and learn, 'What do I do best with this squad to help win?' That's all that I really care about.

"I don't care how many points, rebounds, assists, steals or blocks he averages ... I want to see him really happy when we win a bunch of games. I want to see him high-fiving our other guys."

Compared to what was asked of him in Minnesota, Wiggins will be adjusting to a new role with the Dubs.

"He looked like a very different player with us," Lacob said. "You go from being the No. 1 pick, the savior, the do-it-all guy on offense ... to getting to focus on things that you specialize at -- that you're really good at.

"We saw that he fits in to our culture, he can fit in with our playing style and I think he enjoyed it. The other thing -- he had to be a leader of a team at 19 (years old). He now gets to be around other people who have led and can grow into what type of leader he wants to be.

"I'm really excited to see how his game continues to evolve. There's a chance that he looks really, really good with this group. He may be really, really happy playing with this group. And that's a big part of playing basketball -- are you happy? Are you confident?"

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Wiggins averaged 19.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists over 12 games in a Warriors uniform, while shooting nearly 46 percent overall and 34 percent from deep.

What specific aspects of his game need improvement?

"I would love to see him really grow as a defender," Lacob said. "That would be huge for us. We lost a lot of length on the perimeter over the last two years. He's so long and athletic -- can he use that to his advangtage on defense?

"We saw a little bit of that in the games he was with us. I actually had a conversation with him, I was like, 'You're really athletic and I've seen you block shots at the rim -- how come you don't average more blocks?'

"I'm not saying blocks are the end-all (or) be-all. But it's like, 'Man, you can do this.' "

Yes he can. The No. 1 overall pick from the 2014 NBA Draft averaged 1.4 blocks with the Dubs, up from 0.6 blocks over 442 games with the T-Wolves.

What about offensively?

"I would love to see him do a lot off the ball. He needs to improve on that and I think he already showed he can," Lacob explained. "We do love the ability for him to get a shot off. It wasn't always efficient for him in Minnesota, but that is a really valuable skill.

"We don't want him to lose that, but we want him to add all these other things."

[RELATED: Kerr goes to bat for Wiggins: 'He's a damn good player']

Wiggins should get a lot more high-efficient attempts within Steve Kerr's offense, and it's not unrealistic at all to assume he increases his shooting percentages across the board.

"There's a lot of untapped stuff with Andrew," Lacob added. "We're really excited to get to know him better and continue that relationship ... I would imagine he's champing at the bit to get up here and get to work."

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NBA rumors: Steph Curry to represent Warriors at 2020 draft lottery

NBA rumors: Steph Curry to represent Warriors at 2020 draft lottery

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be held next Thursday, Aug. 20.

Who will be representing the Warriors at the virtual event?

Marcus Thompson of The Athletic is "hearing" Golden State superstar Steph Curry is the choice.

"If Steph Curry ever came and said, 'I want to do this. Put me on the lottery dais,' I think it would be pretty hard to say no," Golden State assistant general manager told Kerith Burke and Grant Liffmann this week on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast. "He's a pretty lucky guy. You want somebody who has good luck to be up there representing you.

"We got some ideas as far as lucky tokens as well."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

No pressure, Steph!

The Warriors are guaranteed to end up with a top-five pick. Here is the breakdown of their odds:

-No. 1 pick: 14 percent
-No. 2 pick: 13.4 percent
-No. 3 pick: 12.7 percent
-No. 4 pick: 12 percent
-No. 5 pick: 47.9 percent

[RELATED: Will Dubs contend for '21 title? 'Hell yes,' Kirk Lacob says]

If the Dubs don't trade the selection, it will be their first time making a lottery pick since 2012 when they took Harrison Barnes at No. 7 overall.

The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled to take place Oct. 16.

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