Warriors summer league offers Jacob Evans chance to showcase growth

Warriors summer league offers Jacob Evans chance to showcase growth

OAKLAND — Aaron Miles didn’t anticipate getting to know Jacob Evans III well. First-round draft picks, after all, typically don’t dip into the G League.

Last year’s No. 28 overall pick didn’t stick with Golden State long, getting sent down to work with the Santa Cruz Warriors coach.

The move clearly was disappointing, creating a rough landing into basketball’s lower level. Kids don’t dream about receiving a life-changing phone call, posing with an NBA jersey and then being sent away from the team that drafted them. Miles said Evans rebounded well nonetheless.

“When he came down to the G League, it was kind of tough at times,” Miles said Friday. “I could’ve done a better job with him maybe. He came down after the season started, maybe a couple weeks in, so we already had roles defined and our team had a rhythm going. He came down and did a great job fitting in.”

Evans split time between Santa Cruz and the big club, going back and forth while Golden State's brass preached patience. He played 30 NBA games in his first season and 21 more in the G League, working to develop his talent and ignite his career in Year 2, to carve a role with Golden State and never look back.

Evans can make a proper step forward on the Warriors' summer league team, a reunion of sorts with Miles. Golden State coach Steve Kerr gave Miles control of the summer league squad, where Evans will be a featured player working a new position.

The Warriors want Evans playing point guard next week in Sacramento, and in Las Vegas after that, trying to build regular-season depth behind Steph Curry, or with ball handlers who could allow him to play off the ball at times while Golden State weathers an extended stretch without Klay Thompson (assuming, of course, he re-signs, as expected).

The Warriors’ summer league team features several interesting personalities, including Jimmer Fredette and 2019 first-round pick Jordan Poole, and 18-year-old Serbian forward Alen Smailagic, who starred for Santa Cruz last year. But Evans should take center stage during this development period.

“With this summer league action — I talked to [Jacob] a couple days before summer league work began -- I told him that this is kind of his show,” Miles said. “As far as being a returning player, he’s going to be running the point for us. He needs to take on that leadership role and understand that everybody is going to watch him, from the draft picks to the rest of the roster, they’re going to be paying attention to his work ethic and what he brings.

”These first two practices, he has been great. I think he’s excited about that.”

Miles is excited for Evans to take a major leap forward. He spent 21 games with Evans in Santa Cruz and saw growth there. Evans also has developed well while working with former Warriors assistant Willie Green, who just took a job with the Phoenix Suns.

“Willie was working with him a ton during the playoffs,” Miles said. “I wasn’t here during the regular season, but in the playoffs, watching them work on his pull-up game and getting his 3-point shot more consistent. It is translating out here in practices. You can see what he and Willie worked on, and he looks good. He has an ability to get to the basket as well and finish. Willie stressed going 100 percent, and also being explosive and finishing at the rim.

“The kid’s pretty athletic, but he doesn’t show it all the time. He does things where he looks like he’s [6-foot-3], but he’s actually [6-foot-6] or whatever. He’s really athletic. He showed that to us in Santa Cruz.”

Miles believes good summer-league play can build confidence, and proper coaching and reinforcement can help Evans showcase his skills.

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Consistency, Miles believes, could lead to a productive NBA career for Evans, with similar characteristics to someone Warriors fans adore.

“I’m not going to say he’s Andre Iguodala, by no means, but he has a great understanding of the game of basketball,” Miles said. “He’s a jack of all trades, a little bit. He does everything well and picks things up quickly.

“He has great size, obviously. He knows how to get us in the offense and get good shots and get the ball where it needs to go. Defensively, his length can be a real problem. I think he’s going to be great at it, and summer league is a great time for us to really see it.”

Warriors' frustrations bubbling to surface after team reaches new low

Warriors' frustrations bubbling to surface after team reaches new low

SAN FRANCISCO -- The hope is that Stephen Curry returns sometime after the All-Star break and, even before he has a chance to shoot holes through a defense, gives the Warriors a few elements they desperately need.

That is, at the most optimistic, at least 10 games away. Realistically, more like 15.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are facing the stiff headwinds that blow during the dog days of January. They’re stumbling. Tumbling. They’ve lost 12 of their last 13 games, and their showing Wednesday night may have been the most fretful yet.

In the course of being thrashed, 129-96, by the Utah Jazz, there were too many moments when the despair was profoundly evident. Flat-footed and often careless on defense. A lack of passion and purpose on both ends. And, of course, moments of frustration.

“When you’re losing a lot of games and you’re beaten up, it’s not easy,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ve lost 12 of 13. It’s no fun. Draymond (Green) got a technical for slamming the ball down and I guess the official (fourth-year ref Jacyn Goble) had to call it.

“Draymond came over and said, ‘You don’t think I’m frustrated?’ And the official said, ‘I know you’re frustrated, but I still have to call it.

“That’s how we feel. We’re frustrated. And I’m frustrated.”

With young players forced to learn in real-time, veterans trying to produce while also tutoring and coaches biting their tongues, a perfect storm of wretchedness has descended upon the franchise that spent most of the past five years as the boss of the NBA.

Draymond submits another line (five points, four rebounds, two assists) uncharacteristic of his career and also is assessed his 12th technical foul in 33 games.

D’Angelo Russell scores 26 points, but generally gazes as drivers whoosh by and rebounds float past his ear.

Willie Cauley-Stein shoots 0-for-5 and stands motionless as Rudy Gobert swoops in for a dunk.

Rookie Jordan Poole shoots 0-for-6 and is showing signs of regression after four encouraging games.

“It’s tough,” Russell said. “We’re playing the cards that we’re dealt. It’s not easy winning in this league. But what you can do is continue to compete, continue to learn what you do well as an individual, what you can be better at as an individual and then, hopefully, that can be part of meshing with the other guys on the team.”

There have been nights when this was apparent. Remember the four-game win streak last month that included a double-digit win over Houston? The Warriors took Denver into overtime last week before being derailed by their shortcomings, and then beat Orlando two nights later.

There was no sign of such progress Wednesday, much less any chance of upsetting a Jazz team playing better than anybody in the league.

It looked as if the Warriors saw defeat coming and surrendered to it.

“We don’t have a consistent effort,” Russell conceded.

“They are a great team,” Glenn Robinson III said. “They move the ball and play together. I think that we can learn a lot of things from them.”

Hmm. Might that be a subtle hint that some of those zero-pass possessions D-Lo seems to manufacture several times a game might be counterproductive?

There was a lot of talk about the young guys -- rookies Eric Paschall and Poole, and second-year guard Jacob Evans III -- needing time to adjust to the ways of the NBA, its physicality and demanding schedule. And while there is some truth to that, the Warriors on this night and a few others have fallen victim to their own inertia.

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Maybe it crested against the Jazz, who outrebounded the Warriors 56-37 and drained 11 more 3-pointers (17-6) while shooting 53.8 percent from the field. Utah missed 11 free throws and still won by 33.

Kerr used the term “demoralized” several times after the game, and it seemed fitting to the effort. But it’s Game No. 46, and it must be played. Then, too, the checks still cash.

“It’s no fun losing,” Kerr said. “But you have to go out and we have another game in two days and you have to keep pushing and keep plugging away.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, especially after the last five years.”

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-96 blowout loss vs. Jazz

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-96 blowout loss vs. Jazz


SAN FRANCISCO -- In a season of unwanted firsts for the Warriors under coach Steve Kerr, another authoritatively landed on their heads Wednesday night at Chase Center.

Their 129-96 loss to the Utah Jazz represents the first 0-4 record in a season series under Kerr.

The Warriors (10-36), who have lost 12 of their last 13 games, were led in scoring by D’Angelo Russell, who totaled a game-high 26 points.

Utah (31-13) is the hottest team in the NBA, having won 18 of its last 20 games.

Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors trailed by double digits after the opening nine minutes:

Destroyed on the glass

Because the Jazz, with 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert, are among the bigger teams in the NBA, the Warriors know the formula on the glass is to be hyper-aggressive. That’s how they outrebounded Utah in two of three previous meetings.

That aggression rarely surfaced Wednesday, and the Warriors paid for their negligence. They were clobbered, 56-37, in that area.

Far too often, they were caught flat-footed. One glaring example came in the second quarter, when Jordan Clarkson missed a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and the long rebound bounced back to him as Russell offered a half-hearted stride and flail.

Marquese Chriss grabbed a team-high eight boards, and Alec Burks snagged six. No starter had more than four.

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Simply put, the Warriors were outworked. This was the sixth time in the last eight games that Golden State was beaten on the glass -- and the worst differential this season.

Draymond vs. whistles

Though he has come perilously close in the past, Draymond Green has never crossed the threshold for being assessed technical fouls without suspension.

That could change this season. He was T’d up for the NBA-high 12th time this season Wednesday night and is five away from 17, which would result in an automatic one-game suspension. The fine, which rises to $4,000 once a player reaches 11, rises to $5,000 once a player reaches 16.

Green is averaging one technical foul every 2.75 games he plays -- by far the highest per-game average in the league this season and also the highest of his career.

Truth told, if ever there is to be a season when Green might take a suspension, it is this one. There are no stakes, and he is at his most effective when the games really matter.

D-Lee and his missing 3

The 3-point shot, which was Damion Lee’s ticket out of the G League and into the NBA, is in snooze mode.

Lee was 0-of-1 from beyond the arc Wednesday, and in four games since his two-way contract was converted to a standard NBA contract, he is 3-of-15 from distance.

The numbers are particularly surprising insofar as Lee had been shooting so well since entering the starting lineup on Dec. 15 and becoming a fixture. In 10 games last month, he shot 42.5 percent from deep.

Lee likely will remain the starting shooting guard, at least for now. Rookie Jordan Poole isn’t ready for that burden and any chance of going back to the Stephen Curry-D’Angelo Russell backcourt that opened the season is more than a month away.