OAKLAND -- The Warriors spent the Thursday night hoping for a chance to pounce on a player they liked in the NBA draft. That chance came in the second round.
And, like the 2016 draft, with the 38th overall pick.
Buying the pick from the Bulls, the Warriors wound up with Oregon’s Jordan Bell, a 6-foot-9 center/forward that as a junior in 2016-17 was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Bell possesses a wingspan a fraction shy of 7-feet and bears, by some accounts, similarities to Draymond Green inasmuch as there is a strong desire to defend and a deep reservoir of energy.
The Long Beach Poly product led the conference in field-goal percentage (63.6) while shooting almost exclusively in the paint. Bell was sixth among Pac-12 rebounders at 8.8 per game and 13th in steals at 1.3 per game.
Bell needed only three seasons became the Ducks all-time leader in blocks and during the NCAA Tournament became the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon (in 1985) to snag at least 12 rebounds in five consecutive tournament games.
Grass is green, the sky is blue, and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is still obsessed with knocking off the Warriors.
Morey admitted as much in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, telling the paper that "a very high percentage" of the Rockets' decisions this offseason are made with one thing on their mind:
Same as last year, it's very likely to win the title we're going to have to beat the Warriors at some point. We're doing what we can to prepare for them. To me, that's what any rational person would do. I'm intrigued by some thinking it's odd that we say that. Maybe because it's not a norm. Ask any fan, 'Who do you have to beat to win the title?' They're going to say 'the Warriors.' It seems like [general manager] speak or coachspeak to not say that.
Morey told anybody who would ask last season that the Rockets were single-mindedly obsessed with beating the Warriors in the playoffs. Houston came close last season, jumping out to a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals, before Golden State stormed back to win the final two games in Rockets star Chris Paul's injury absence.
Morey responded with a substantial makeover of his roster. Defensive stoppers Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza are gone, while Carmelo Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, Marquese Chriss, James Ennis and Brandon Knight are in. The Rockets were one of the West's best defensive teams last season, and Morey expects the team to withstand the loss of Ariza and Mbah a Moute.
"We can be [as strong defensively]," Morey told the Chronicle. "They were both extremely good defenders. So it will be a challenge. That was a big part of our meeting. [Assistant coach Roy Rogers] was walking through what changes and how excited he was with what he was planning to do and the personnel we have to be better than last year."
Morey -- as well as the Warriors -- will get a first look at whether or not Houston's offseason was successful on Nov. 17, when the Rockets host the defending NBA champions.
There might be hope for Jimmy Butler to mend fences in Minnesota after all.
It appears ex-Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are on better terms. Durant started following the Thunder point guard on Instagram on Saturday.
Durant and Westbrook played together for eight seasons in Oklahoma City, but their relationship seemingly turned sour two years ago after Durant joined the Warriors in free agency. Westbrook reportedly wasn't happy Durant spurned OKC for the Bay Area, and the two jawed at times during various Thunder-Warriors tilts.
But the icy relationship seemed to thaw at February's NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Durant and Westbrook again played for the same team, and it appeared they were enjoying themselves.
That was a departure from the previous year -- Durant's first with the Warriors -- and the back-to-back Finals NBA MVP took the blame for their beef.
"I feel like I f---ed that up," Durant said at the time. "I feel like I made it a thing when it shouldn't have been."
For his part, Westbrook said the weekend in February was "normal." But, as of this writing, Westbrook still does not follow Durant on the platform. He did, however, post this image on his Instagram story to show where he stood.
Well, where he stood physically, at least.