Warriors

Warriors' Marquese Chriss grateful for opportunity at redemption

Warriors' Marquese Chriss grateful for opportunity at redemption

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the last two weeks, Marquese Chriss has walked into Chase Center uncertain if he'd last in Golden State past training camp. 

Now, with a lack of frontcourt depth forcing Golden State to waive Alfonzo McKinnie, the team has made room for the former first-round pick. 

"I haven't heard anything officially," Chriss said Friday morning. "So just going into it like I have the past couple games and still trying to prove myself and trying to show that I belong here." 

Golden State's decision to choose Chriss comes as the Warriors are battling a thin frontcourt. On the eve of training camp, Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced big man Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Kevon Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage.

Adding to the peril, Spellman tweaked his back in the Warriors' first preseason game against the Lakers. As injuries mounted, Chriss -- who signed a non-guaranteed deal prior to training camp -- averaged 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds in 22 minutes through four games. 

"It was kind of a perfect storm the way things happened. Obviously, I would never wish injury upon anybody," Chriss said.

Chriss' latest opportunity comes as the 22-year old is hoping to revitalize his career. He was drafted eighth overall by the Kings before being sent in a draft-night trade to the Phoenix Suns. He spent two seasons with the Suns, before playing stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, garnering some reported character concerns along the way. 

"He was immature," former teammate Jared Dudley told NBC Sports Bay Area Friday afternoon. "But it's not a bad immaturity, he just had to grow up and they threw him into the fire and sometimes kids aren't ready for that." 

However, in his short time in Golden State, Chriss has been a model teammate in the locker room, garnering the praise of forward Draymond Green, who came to Chriss' defense this week. 

"[People] always want to blame the kid," Green said following Wednesday's preseason loss to the Lakers. "It's not always the kid's fault. He's getting older now, so he's not a kid anymore. But he came into this league as a kid, but it's never the organization's fault. It's always that guy. So I'm happy he's gotten the opportunity to show what he can really do because it's a prime example. But no one will still blame any organization. It'll always be the kid's fault, and it will be the next kid that comes in's fault and the next kid after that. So I'm happy he's gotten this opportunity."

"At the time Phoenix didn't have the infrastructure to manage and control people and to develop people at that time," Dudley added. "Three coaches in his year and a half. He was partially to blame, he was getting technical fouls, he was shooting bad shots but sometimes it's on the organization and they failed him."

On Friday, Chriss expressed appreciation for Green's words. 

"I appreciate him for having my back and I wholeheartedly believe what he said," Chriss said. "Being a person to go through things like that. Having a lot of blame on you for stuff you can't really control is tough and its growing pains with being in the NBA. I feel like it takes time to develop and learn.

"It bothers me when people try to come for my character," he added. "I know what type of person I am and I know how my mom raised me and I know how I want to represent myself and my family so that's the biggest thing for me is just showing that things that have been said are not true." 

As Chriss spoke Friday, Golden State's need for the 6-foot-10 big man was evident. A few feet from his media availability, Cauley Stein was just starting to get on-court work, while Looney -- who is hoping to play in the season opener Oct. 24 -- rehabbed on the other end of the court.

[RELATED: Steph lays out best-case scenario for new-look Warriors]

With the opportunity, Chriss will once again have an opportunity to rectify his career. 

"When I came here I was just ready to compete and ready to try to work for a spot and I had no idea that this many people were actually hurt," he said. "But it happened the way it did and I'm just happy." 

Luka Doncic developing into NBA superstar as clash with Warriors looms

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USATSI

Luka Doncic developing into NBA superstar as clash with Warriors looms

If the Warriors bring the same defensive intensity they took into Memphis on Tuesday, they’ll give themselves a reasonable chance to win Wednesday night in Dallas.

Anything less, and they’ll be food for the kid.

Three months and eight days before he can walk up to a bartender and legally order anything he wants, Luka Doncic already is taking whatever he wants within the NBA.

The league that provided a platform for such gifted 20-year-olds as Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant has never seen one quite like Doncic, who is driving the Mavericks into a new era of relevancy.

His across-the-board statistics are astonishing and testify to his impact. He’s the only player in the league that is in the top 10 in triple-doubles (first, six), assists (second, 9.3 per game), scoring (fourth, 29.5), player-efficiency rating (fourth 30.91), minutes (fourth, 35.0) and rebounds (10th, 10.7).

But those superlatives, which set Doncic apart, represent only the tangibles. It’s his background and intangibles that are making him not only a fabulous player but also put him on the fast track to superstardom.

The 6-foot-7 Slovenian guard/forward has the complete panache kit. The hubris to dribble between the legs of a defender. The audacity to demand the ball and take the shot in the final seconds of a close game. The no-look passes reminiscent of vintage Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The physical theatrics that speak the universal language of swagger.

Put another way, Luka’s game has elements of the late, great Drazen Petrovic, Bird, Magic, Kobe and LeBron.

He’s a “bad motherf-----," James said after he and Doncic exchanged lightning strikes in a 119-110 overtime victory by the Lakers on Nov. 1 in Dallas.

James had 39 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds in 43 minutes. Doncic had 31 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes. Doncic now has 14 career triple-doubles, two more before his 21st birthday than Magic Johnson (seven) and LeBron (five) combined before theirs.

So, naturally, when Luka totaled 42 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 117-110 win over the Spurs on Monday, LeBron was compelled to comment via Instagram.

“He’s one BAD MOFO!!!!!. I tried to tell y’all.”

Doncic is one of two players in NBA history to open a season with at least 250 points, 100 rebounds and 90 assists in his first 10 games. The other? A legend named Oscar Robertson.

After facing Luka for the first time, last December, Warriors All-Star Draymond Green didn’t bother to skimp on the praise.

"That dude good," Green said after a 120-116 Warriors win. "He got it. He going to be a problem. He already a problem, but he's going to be really good for a long time. He is exciting to watch. He has kind of lifted that franchise."

Luka was, at that time, 19. He had played a total of 30 NBA games.

But Doncic had been a pro, sort of, for six years, since he was 13. That is not a typo but was his age when he signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid to play on the under-16 team. He was 16 when he made his actual pro debut. At age 18, a month before he was drafted by the Mavericks, he became the youngest person to be named Euroleague MVP.

And now he’s banging on the door of the NBA’s MVP discussion that centers mostly on Houston’s James Harden, who won it in 2018, and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won it last season.

Luka is the primary reason Dallas (8-5) is fifth in the Western Conference and making a bid to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. He has help -- notably seven-foot-three Kristaps Porzingis -- but Doncic is this team’s wheels, motor, horn and hood ornament.

“This guy can do anything he wants to on a basketball court," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, a former teammate of Bird, told reporters in Dallas on Monday. "He's having one of those magical runs right now. It's a phenomenal thing to watch It's a phenomenal thing to be a part of."

And here come the Warriors, who aren’t the rampaging bunch of recent years but have gotten much better after being the NBA’s worst defense through the first 12 games.

With D’Angelo Russell – wonderful on offense, generally nonchalant on defense – sidelined with a hand injury, coach Steve Kerr is starting his best defensive lineup. The guards: Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. The forwards: Eric Paschall and Green, who assumes point guard duties on offense. The center: Willie Cauley-Stein. With them playing the bulk of the minutes over the last three games, the team’s defensive rating (103.0) is fifth-best in the league.

[RELATED: Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with win in Memphis]

If the Warriors bring their best stuff, they have a chance. It’s only a chance, though, because the kid isn’t partial to being contained.

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For much of the young season, the Warriors have been in search of a small piece of continuity. 

With three of its four All-Star pieces out due to injury, the quest has been arduous for the Warriors, leading to the team's longest losing streak in since 2012. 

Those troubles momentarily paused when the Warriors beat the Grizzlies 114-95 on Tuesday to snap a seven-game losing streak while validating the progress the team has made in recent weeks. 

"I'm happy for the guys," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They've been playing hard and working hard and It's good to see them rewarded."

Tuesday's win comes as the Warriors have played just well enough to lose in recent games. In Friday's loss to the Celtics, the team held the Eastern Conference leaders to just 40 percent from the field, with Boston guard Kemba Walker making just 6 of his 19 shots. Two days later, the Warriors held the battered Pelicans to 41 percent from the field, before losing 108-100. Entering Tuesday, the team allowed teams to shoot just 41.1 percent over their last two outings. 

Keeping with a recent trend, Golden State held the Grizzlies to just 40 percent from the field and forcing 14 turnovers. Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant struggled much, making just 7-of-20 from the field as the Warriors diversified its defensive sets for most of the night. 

"We came out and competed hard and executed the gameplan like we talked about and I'm proud of the guys," Warriors forward Glenn Robinson said. "I knew it was coming because of the way we played, we're trying to play hard and play the right way." 

"I think we just challenged ourselves," Warriors forward Draymond Green added. "That's something we've talked a lot about, getting better on the defensive end and we've been stepping up to the challenge." 

For much of the season, the team's defensive woes have coincided with its uncommon rash of injuries. The trend started on the eve of training camp when the Warriors announce Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage. 

In the last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. Last week, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand. All the while, one of the league's most vaunted defense has plummeted to last in the league. 

Even as injuries mounted, signs of promise were apparent around the locker room. Rookie Eric Paschall is averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 rebounds, including a 30-point performance in Sunday's loss to the Pelicans. Veteran guard Alec Burk -- who signed a one-year contract with the team last summer -- is averaging 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 11 games. 

"The great thing with these guys is they've stayed with it every step of the way," Kerr said. "They haven't taken a day off, they haven't stopped working." 

[RELATED: Warriors get good news on Looney, Smailagic]

"You can definitely see that there's some improvement," Green added. "And with the improvement, we've been talking after each game about 'We're getting there, we're getting there, just keep on working.'" 

While their recent play has been promising, the real progress will be dictated by what the Warriors have been about for nearly a decade. 

"We've also been talking about don't get comfortable with just being there," Green said. "Don't get comfortable with 'Hey we're getting better.' Let's try to make this 'Hey, we're getting better' equal some wins."