After averaging more than 20 minutes a game last season for the Warriors, Juan Toscano-Anderson's playing time has been much more sporadic in 2021-22. Prior to the Warriors' win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, JTA had seen less than 10 minutes of action in each of the last four games, including one DNP-CD against the Charlotte Hornets.
Toscano-Anderson was vital in Cleveland, playing the entire fourth quarter as the Warriors turned a 13-point deficit into a 15-point win, the largest final quarter turnaround in franchise history. Following the win, JTA offered a refreshing perspective on his inconsistent playing time after such a strong campaign last season.
"I think the only difficult part is just having the desire to play, I love this game, this is my life right here, I put so much effort and emotion into this game, so I just always want to play," Toscano-Anderson told reporters. "But at the end of the day, I'm an adult and I'm understanding of what my job and what my role is on this team, so I'm accepting of that. I could sit here and pout about it, but what good is that going to do?
"It's all about perspective man, I was telling Connor earlier it's just about perspective man, I could be anywhere else in the world, I could be on any other team, I could be on a losing team, s--t I could be back in the G League, but I'm on the best team in the NBA, my hometown team, I get to play with Hall of Famers, it's perspective man, yeah I want to play more, of course, everybody wants to play.
"S--t at the end of the day, as a grown man you got to wake up and do your job and that's what my job is, my job is to give my team a spark off the bench and whenever I'm needed and my number is called I got to perform. Just staying ready man, that's difficult at all, I've been through tougher stuff in my life, so it's perspective."
JTA's number was called in a big way Thursday night, and he certainly performed. During the fourth quarter, Toscano-Anderson scored seven points, pulled down five rebounds and was perfect from the field as the Warriors flipped an 81-68 deficit into a 104-89 victory at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Toscano-Anderson was a remarkable plus-28 in the frame, and overall was a plus-21 in the win.
The additions of veterans Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter, as well as the selection of Jonathan Kuminga in the 2021 NBA Draft, have led to a crowded group of wings for head coach Steve Kerr.
"I thought that unit just really kicked it into gear, defense was great, Juan stayed ready as I knew he would, after being out of the rotation and was just fantastic, flying around the floor," Kerr said of JTA and the Warriors' fourth-quarter group that outscored Cleveland 36-8 over the final 12 minutes.
It's hard to find an NBA player more humble and appreciative of his opportunities in the league than Toscano-Anderson. A guy who grew up in Oakland and spent multiple seasons playing professionally in Mexico before getting an opportunity with the Santa Cruz Warriors, JTA has worked hard for everything he has earned in his basketball career.
He might have played more last season, but the Warriors also were a fringe playoff team. Now part of the NBA's unquestioned best team through 15 games, Toscano-Anderson is comfortable with his role and will continue to stay ready.