Programming note: Watch the NBA Finals pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m., streaming live on the MyTeams app.
The 2018-19 regular season did not go as planned for Warriors forward Jordan Bell.
Excluding the last two games, he played in 66 games and averaged 3.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.8 blocks in 11.3 minutes per night.
In the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers and in the first five games of Golden State's second-round series against the Houston Rockets, Bell was basically completely out of the rotation.
But when Kevin Durant went down with a right calf strain, everything changed. Over the Warriors' last five games, Bell is averaging 6.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals in 13.0 minutes.
"I think he's playing at a really high level now, giving us exactly what we need -- speed, energy, athleticism, intelligent play offensively, drive and kick, move the ball -- he's been fantastic," head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after practice on Saturday. "And I'm really happy for him because it was a tough regular season for him.
"He's finishing the season well and I think this bodes well for his future."
Speaking of his future, Bell will be a restricted free agent in July. The Warriors will be able to match any offer he might receive, but it's unclear at this point what Bell's market will be considering his inconsistent regular season.
The Oregon product has shown flashes of the kind of player he could become and he still possesses great potential. But will he get that opportunity with Golden State?
As Marcus Thompson of The Athletic wrote last week, Bell would like to call Chase Center home next season.
He wants to remain with the Warriors. He wants to re-sign this offseason and continue growing with this franchise, continue learning from these Hall of Famers. Bell said he doesn’t want to go to a lesser team so he can get more minutes. He knows what he has right here.
For now, the NBA Finals is all that matters. In fact, how Bell performs against the Toronto Raptors could have a big impact on what happens for him in free agency.
So that means he's going to be in the rotation for sure?
"He's gonna play," Kerr said. "We'll see how it all shakes out. It depends on matchups and health and the rest. But even if everybody's healthy, Jordan will find his way onto the court.
"He's earned that. He's played his way into that. He's helped us win game. And I'm confident putting him out there."
When you look at what Bell has done of late, Kerr should be confident:
Jordan Bell with an awesome sequence pic.twitter.com/TeppwlcUUT— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 11, 2019
Jordan Bell did a great job at making himself available to Jerebko. He then immediately attacked and found the open Quinn Cook for a corner 3 (this was early in the 4th when the game was still close and the Warriors needed the bench to produce) pic.twitter.com/dMw0YOBcZ0— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 15, 2019
Zach Collins sagged off Jordan Bell and tried to bait him into taking the open midrange shot. But Bell stayed patient as he knew Klay was coming off the staggered screens and delivered the pass perfectly = 3 points pic.twitter.com/hLTiymo4Hs— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 15, 2019
Steve Kerr didn’t take Jordan Bell out when he missed the wide open dunk, and Bell made Kerr look smart for doing this soon thereafter... pic.twitter.com/DdG1btWlNJ— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 19, 2019
What an AWESOME block by Jordan Bell. Incredible timing pic.twitter.com/BEFCCuozr9— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 19, 2019