Monte Poole

Jordan Bell is not Draymond Green but parallels are impossible to miss

Jordan Bell is not Draymond Green but parallels are impossible to miss

OAKLAND -- He’s listed at 6-foot-9 but is closer to 6-7.

He grew up in a place where youngsters often must “man up” prematurely.

He is quick to blame himself, even if it’s not warranted.

He’d probably be chasing a career in football, if it weren’t for basketball.

He was annoyed when the first round of the NBA Draft unfolded without him.

And he very likely will inherit a few minutes at center for the Warriors.

Jordan Bell is not Draymond Green, but the parallels are impossible to miss -- particularly regarding an aptitude and affinity for defense. And get this: Bell’s athleticism exceeds that of Green.

The Warriors on Friday introduced Bell, the 22-year-old University Oregon product for which they arranged to pay the Bulls the maximum $3.5 million to buy his rights after Chicago drafted him in the second round, 38th overall.

That Bell’s new employers have assigned his locker, which is right next to that of Green at the team facility, suggests they expect him to be around for a while and also that they believe he is equipped to handle what sometimes will be a boisterous brand of mentorship coming from the veteran.

“Draymond will be a fun challenge for you,” president/general manager Bob Myers said, glancing over at Bell.

Bell made a name for himself in three seasons with the Ducks before jumping off TV screens across the country during the 2017 NCAA Tournament. There was the eight-block game against Kansas that sent the Ducks to the Final Four. His averages over five tournament games: 12.6 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.2 blocks

Bell also was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Midwest Regional of the tournament.

Yet he is haunted by the two rebounds that got away. With North Carolina leading 77-76 and six seconds remaining in the tournament semifinal, Bell was twice beaten by Tar Heels players grabbing offensive rebounds off missed free throws, securing the win and sending Oregon home.

Bell blamed himself.

“If I had just boxed out . . . I had two opportunities,” he said after the game. “People can tell me whatever they want, but I lost the game for us.”

More than two months later, the kid who grew up in Long Beach -- where he had a few rough moments -- and attended athletic powerhouse Long Beach Poly High still feels the sting. And wants to feel it, hoping it never goes away.

“I definitely want to keep that with me at all times,” Bell said Friday. “I remember things from high school where I missed the block out, or I missed the shot, or some kind of thing that still motivates me to this day. It’s definitely going to stay with me, definitely going to push me to become a better basketball player.”

Based largely on scouting reports -- Myers saw him personally in the Maui Tournament -- the Warriors concluded Bell was worth the money. He fits so much of what they do, especially on defense, where he has the ability guard multiple positions, switching out on most any opponent.

Yet Myers does not wish to label Bell strictly as a “defensive guy” simply because his offense is not as developed.

“I could see games where he scores a lot of points for us,” Myers said. “At his position, because of the other guys we have out there, there’s going to be some nights where he’s got some easy opportunities.

“But mostly what we saw, what we think, is that if you're out on the basketball court and you’re playing against Jordan Bell, that’s going to be a problem.”

Which is what NBA teams have been saying about Green ever since he moved into the starting lineup in 2015. He was runner-up in the Defensive Player of the Year voting in each of the past two seasons and is considered the favorite for the award to be announced Monday night.

Green, listed at 6-7 but closer to 6-5, often plays center in the Warriors small lineup. The team believes Bell has the potential to do the same, and he sees himself as someone cut from the same cloth as the man he seeks to emulate.

“People said he was too small, they don’t know what position he plays, not athletic enough, he can’t shoot,” Bell said of Green. “People say those things about me.

“Draymond plays with a chip on his shoulder, and I just love his aggressiveness: anchoring the defense, guarding every position, switching, talking, being the heart and soul on defense.”

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

OAKLAND -- For the Warriors, the NBA Draft was about two things: Waiting for the right time to buy the rights to a player they love and being entertained, for the fourth consecutive day, by the earnest efforts of the league’s underclass.

Not that they would put it quite so impolitely.

“It’s a competitive league. All we do is try to get better,” president/general manager Bob Myers said late Thursday night, insisting that the Warriors are too immersed in their own challenges to look down their noses at the other 29 teams.

But the truth is inescapable. This is the week that touched off the flailing of franchises feeling particularly feeble and futile in the wake of Warriors destructive run through the postseason.

The Warriors were 16-1, the best record in NBA postseason history. Their average win margin, 13.5 points, is No. 2 all time. They demolished LeBron James and the Cavaliers in The Finals, after the Cavs had annihilated all comers in the Eastern Conference. Part III of The Trilogy was by far the most lopsided.

And the Warriors followed that up by buying a second-round pick to get, by most accounts, a first-round talent in Oregon’s Jordan Bell.

[POOLE: Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble]

The rest of the league is determined to fight back and, therefore, is scrambling and shuffling and trading and posturing in an effort to close the gap on the champs. Those teams, staring up at the Warriors, have to do something to feel productive today while trying to keep their fans from giving up on tomorrow.

No team did more draft-night hustling than their neighbors in Sacramento, who after using their No. 5 pick to select the player they coveted most, Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, traded the No. 10 overall pick to Portland for Nos. 15 and 20, choosing North Carolina forward Justin Jackson and Duke forward Harry Giles.

The 76ers chose Markelle Fultz, believing he is the final piece to assembling the best young team in the East. The folks in Philly, who avoided the team for nearly a decade, suddenly are on board, buying 14,000 season tickets -- a franchise record.

The Lakers grabbed UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, who will generate an enthusiasm missing at Staples Center since the best days of Kobe Bryant.

The Timberwolves and Bulls completed a major trade, with Minnesota getting All-Star guard Jimmy Butler in exchange for guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, with the teams also swapping draft picks.

This all followed several moves made earlier this week, beginning with the Cavaliers dumping general manager David Griffin precisely seven days after being run over by the Warriors in The Finals.

Griffin’s dismissal preceded by a day the Hawks trading once-imposing Dwight Howard to the Hornets, as well as the Lakers dealing D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for All-Star center and Stanford product Brook Lopez.

Meanwhile, as the Warriors examine their various free-agent contingencies, so much more is percolating around the league:

-Trade talk swirls about Pacers All-Star forward Paul George, who is destined to get out of Indiana, perhaps sooner than later.

-The Cavs are searching, so far without much success, for a team willing to engage in serious negotiations regarding power forward Kevin Love.

-Knicks top executive Phil Jackson, committed to a mission of unknown purpose, announced he’s now willing to shop 21-year-old wunderkind Kristaps Porzingis.

-The Spurs are ready to move on from LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green.

-The Clippers -- already with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick set to become free agents -- reportedly are willing to ship out DeAndre Jordan.

-The Rockets seemingly are ready to swap anybody not named James Harden.

-And the Celtics also are known to be on the market, though that is not unusual when Danny Ainge is sitting in the corner office.

The Warriors are the cause for such a mad frenzy, and the sight of their competitors making mad dashes toward their respective futures is the effect. They are two cuts above and that’s tough to take in a league of men who may not mind losing but do not care to be humiliated.

“We never looked at it as far as catching anybody, or people catching up,” Myers said. “Our job is to try to get better each day. And whether that’s through personnel, coaching, developing our players or us in the front office learning and growing.

“I guess I don’t view us as ahead of everyone,” he added. “I know it’s been mentioned by everybody else, but once you start thinking that, you’re in trouble. You’ve to start believing and keep pushing.”

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

OAKLAND -- Considering their status as reigning champs without a pick, members of the Warriors personnel department could have turned out the lights and left team headquarters to watch the NBA Draft from a nearby tavern.

They instead stayed in business mode Thursday night, observing the draft-night chaos up close, waiting for the right moment and the right player.

And for the second consecutive year, the Warriors paid a team for its 38th overall draft pick, sending a reported $3.5 million to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the rights to Oregon big man Jordan Bell, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“Everybody we talked to had a lot of good things to say about him,” president/general manager Bob Myers said. “He’s one of the few guys we looked at and really wanted to see if we could get. I actually was not optimistic we would be able to get him. But somehow it came to fruition.”

Myers added that the Warriors, along with many mock drafts, projected Bell as a first-round pick.

Bell led the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (63.6) while shooting almost exclusively in the paint. The 6-foot-9 center/forward was sixth among Pac-12 rebounders at 8.8 per game and 13th in steals at 1.3 per game.

The Long Beach Poly High product possesses a wingspan a fraction shy of 7-feet and bears, by some accounts, a resemblance to Draymond Green inasmuch as he is a defense-first player with a deep reservoir of energy.

It’s a comparison that Bell, asked about it, embraces.

“Draymond, because people always say I’m undersized,” Bell told Basketball Insiders last month. “He’s one of those players you can’t really say what position he is, but he’s a force on defense.”

Moreover, Myers cited Green as one of the players best suited to mentor Bell.

“Draymond is a good one,” the GM said. “He’s not afraid to tell players what he thinks. He’s going to be a good teacher.”

Bell in three seasons became the Ducks’ all-time leader in blocks. He blocked eight shots in a Midwest Regional win over Kansas that sent Oregon to the Final Four. He became during the NCAA Tournament the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon (in 1985) to snag at least 12 rebounds in five consecutive tournament games.

“Defending is one of my best attributes,” Bell told Basketball Insiders. “Being able to switch 1-through-5. Play small ball. Blocking shots. Timing. Decision-making on offense.”

These are the characteristics that prompted the Warriors to put a red-letter “B” next to Bell’s name on their draft board -- even though his offensive skills are unrefined.

“We love his ability to defend,” Myers said. “He could probably defend most positions, and in the NBA that’s huge. To be able to switch pick-and-rolls, rebound, block shots, finish, there are a lot of boxes he checks.

“ . . . We just like the way he plays basketball. We’ll find a place for him.”

The Warriors also are closing in on a deal for one of Bell’s Oregon teammates. Forward Chris Boucher is expected to sign a two-way contract with the team.

“That’s something we’re trying to move toward,” Myers said of Boucher, who is rehabilitating an ACL surgery.

“But we like players that win. We like players that can play. I don’t care what school they are or what their background is, or what position. Winners. That’s what we’re trying to do, is win. If we end up getting that done, that’s another player that was on a very good team.”