NBC Sports

Warriors need JTA to summon his 'little big man' vs. Lakers

NBC Sports

Juan Toscano-Anderson realizes what the Warriors will need from him Wednesday against the Lakers, and it requires treading into the zone he once did all he could to avoid.

They need him to hurl his 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame into the land of the giants.

That’s where he will try to protect the Warriors from the voracious rebounding machine that is 6-foot-10, 280-pound Andre Drummond. Or maybe JTA will be forced to confront 6-foot-11, 255-pound Marc Gasol. 

Oh, sure, Kevon Looney (6-foot-9. 225 pounds) will start at center and face the same challenges, but any chance of the Warriors positioning themselves for an upset in the play-in game in Los Angeles requires JTA to summon his little big man.

That guy made occasional appearances at Castro Valley High School but Toscano-Anderson did all he could hide him at Marquette.

“In college, I used to hate playing the four and five,” he said Tuesday. “I never accepted that role, and that was a huge problem of mine in college.

“But now I love it. Because it’s an advantage for me. I can hoop. It’s not many bigs that can keep up with me when I’m running the floor and also getting into that pocket and making plays.”

Toscano-Anderson is a natural wing whose game – defensive and offensive versatility, buttressed by a high hoops IQ – borrows liberally from Draymond Green but also former Warriors star Andre Iguodala.

If JTA were not on the roster, the Warriors would have a glaring need for that rare specimen capable of filling as many voids he does.

 

Perhaps the best illustration of JTA’s value is that since clearing concussion protocol on April 23, the Warriors are 10-3 and he’s averaging 31.2 minutes per game, fourth behind Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Green. 

On Wednesday night, Toscano-Anderson will be asked to supply on-ball defense and be an offensive conduit while also slam into bigger men in hopes to neutralize the size disadvantage of a team that outrebounded the Warriors 156-97 (an average of 52.0-32.3) in three regular-season games.

And that was before LA acquired Drummond, who has led the NBA in rebounding four of the last five seasons.

“That’s been a problem of ours all season long, is the rebounding, our size,” Toscano-Anderson said. “We know that. We’re going to gang rebound. We’re telling our guards all the time that we’re boxing these big guys out, so our guards have to go get rebounds.

“This might be a game where our guards have to go and get five, six or seven rebounds, as opposed to Draymond getting 10, me getting eight and Loon getting 12.”

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The Warriors would like to generate the kind of pace that forces such mastodons as Drummond and Gasol off the floor. Forcing the Lakers to go small, even if it means dealing with the energetic Montrezl Harrell, should mean fewer second-chance points. LA doubled the Warriors, 52-26, in that category in the regular season.

If JTA and the Warriors can’t prevent the Lakers from posting huge rebounding advantages, they’ll fly back to the Bay Area early Thursday morning knowing they have about 40 hours to prepare for a second play-in game Friday night at Chase Center.

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