Warriors

Why Wanamaker looks forward to facing former Celtics team

Warriors

In just over a month with the Warriors, Brad Wanamaker has earned the trust of head coach Steve Kerr. Wanamaker has proven to be reliable, bringing some consistency to an otherwise up and down Warriors team. He's the "everyday player," Brad Stevens told Kerr he was when he was traded to Golden State.

"First off, that's a great compliment for any coach to tell any player, that they have trust in them," Wanamaker said of both his coaches' comments in a Zoom call Tuesday afternoon. "It builds your confidence up. I'm slowly adjusting to my role, figuring it out more and more each game and each practice. But when coaches give you compliments like that, it makes the game easier for you."

Wanamaker joined the Warriors in November after spending his first two NBA seasons with the Boston Celtics, who the Warriors face at Chase Center Tuesday night. 

But Wanamaker was no ordinary rookie when he arrived in Boston in 2018. He had spent the eight years before that overseas after going undrafted in 2011. 

Making the leap to the NBA was a challenging decision for Wanamaker. He had made a name for himself in Europe, winning Finals MVP honors in a German league in 2015. But he knew he would regret not coming stateside. 

In his first year with the Celtics, Wanamaker was buried in the rotation, forced to watch most of their games from the bench. But in that second season, he solidified himself as the reliable backup he is today. 

 

"I saw and learned the game and was watching my teammates (to learn) how to be a consistent player," Wanamaker said. "That was the key: being a consistent player and gaining Brad's trust. Obviously my second year ... I was able to get an opportunity and I went out there and had my moments ... it was the consistency of me being there and being solid every night. As the season grew, my role grew.

Now with the Warriors,  Wanamaker has proven to be a dependable backup to Steph Curry. But he's not limited to just playing behind Curry. Kerr has said that he likes the two point guards on the floor together

"We like the fact that Brad can handle the ball and also make plays off of Steph's penetration," Kerr said last month. "When they play together, we kind of have two playmakers out there."

"It's great," Wanamaker said of playing alongside Curry. "He's such a great player, and very unselfish. It's cool because he shares the rock. It takes some pressure off him, the ball out of his hands a little bit. He's trying to make the game easier for him ... It's still an adjustment. Still trying to read where he likes the ball at times."

Wanamaker is still adjusting to his overall role in a new system. He's averaging just 4.9 points and 2.9 assists this year while shooting 35.6  percent in 16.5 minutes per game. He knows he has more to give but understands that will come with time, just as it did in Boston. 

When Wanamaker takes the court against his former teammates, it will be weird at first. That's the only other team in the league's known. At the same time, it will be special. 

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"It's definitely a special place," Wanamaker said. "It was my first chance, my first NBA deal, which was my lifelong dream. It's going to be great out there playing against the guys who I still keep in touch with. Great relationships with those guys. Two years with most of them."

"When I'm hearing the play calls and hear Brad's voice and some of the coaches calling plays, it may be weird a little bit to begin. But once I adjust, the competitiveness will pick up. Some friendly trash talk with the guys. I'm excited."