- Editor's Note: Kerith Burke's full interview with Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson can be seen on NBC Sports Bay Area during "Warriors Pregame Live" before Monday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
When Juan Toscano-Anderson made a hustle play and flung his body over the scorer’s table in Boston in the Warriors' eventual 119-114 loss to the Celtics on April 17, his teammates praised his heart.
“I would go to WAR with you ANY DAY! A DAWG!!!” Draymond Green exclaimed on Instagram.
The play gave JTA a gash on his head and a stint in the concussion protocol.
“If I had to do it again, I would! Ten times out of ten!” he wrote on Twitter.
JTA’s story of hustle and hope is well known in the Bay Area. His upbringing in East Oakland. Going undrafted. Playing in Mexico. Impressing the G League Santa Cruz Warriors during an open tryout.
And now, being an essential part of the Warriors’ rotation while he’s on a two-way contract.
“I'm just playing basketball. That's what I love to do. I've been on this team and nobody has ever made me feel like I was on two-way,” Toscano-Anderson told NBC Sports Bay Area.
“The whole year I felt a part of the culture, a part of the locker room. All of the guys from the top to the bottom have made me feel a part of this team.”
JTA said he doesn’t pay attention to his contract when he’s practicing or playing games. Who is paying attention is the rest of the NBA, and opponents are celebrating his path as a pro.
“The first person who actually said something to me was KD, which was really dope. I'm a fan of his game,” JTA said.
Kevin Durant found JTA postgame when the Nets visited the Warriors on Feb. 13. JTA said KD told him “that he respected the grind.”
“I respect the game so to hear that from KD, for him to know who I was just a few games into the league, that was dope.”
On April 15, when JTA’s 20 points and seven rebounds against the Cleveland Cavaliers helped the Warriors arrive at a four-game winning streak, Steph Curry stated the situation plainly.
“His mentality has always been that he belongs in this league. Opportunity is there and he’s taking full advantage of it,” Curry said.