Barnes, Ezeli will play, but will they win?

910537.jpg

Barnes, Ezeli will play, but will they win?

OAKLAND If the Warriors are to have a successful season and its up to you to decide whether that means the playoffs or not theyregoing to need some things to go right for them.Obviously, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry are going to needto be healthy for most, if not virtually all of the season. Theyll also needto defend better, be more efficient late in games and develop solidchemistry.Theyre also going to need a pair of rookies to contribute,and by contribute we dont just mean play. We mean contribute to winning.In other words, the pressure is on Harrison Barnes andFestus Ezeli to produce.Through two preseason games, they have. Warriors coach MarkJackson expects it to continue.I dont think they have to be better than I think theyare, Jackson said. They have to be who they are. Asking Festus to do whathe did (vs. Utah) is right up his alley. And Harrison being a starter or a guyoff the bench playing quality minutes. But at the same time, thats why you sayWell, you can be real good. Well, we can be. But understand this is a leaguewhere experience of winning and knowing how to win is a big deal. And thatswhen well take the next step.In other words, theres a difference between playing in theNBA and winning in the NBA.Nevertheless, the very early returns on Barnes and Ezeli areencouraging. Barnes may end up being the teams starting small forward. If not,hell likely back up Brandon Rush. Either way, you have to believe hes goingto be getting 20 minutes a night give or take a few.So hes going to have to be a quick learner. And Barnesacknowledges the lessons are pretty tough.Its been a whirlwind, Barnes said of training camp andhis first two preseason games. Obviously, playing the Lakers is different thanthe Jazz because that (the Lakers game) was the first time out there. A lot ofjitters. Stuff like that. But its exciting. These games have just been so muchdifferent from any type of game Ive ever played. Kind of living out thedream.REWIND: Good signs for Warriors in first preseason game
Ezeli is another one a first-year player who is going toget minutes. Heck, Warriors fans dont want to hear this, but its possibleEzeli could be the teams starting center on opening night.That would likely happen should Andrew Bogut, coming offleft ankle surgery, not be ready by Oct. 31, when the Warriors play the Suns inPhoenix.But even if Bogut is back by then, his minutes are probablygoing to be limited, opening the door for plenty of Ezeli. After two exhibitiongames, it seems apparent Ezeli is ahead of Andris Biedrins, who missedTuesdays practice with right groin tightness, on the depth chart.Ezeli said hes been planning for all of this.I expected it, Ezeli said. Because, no matter where Iwent I felt like stuff I bring to whatever team, I felt like I had something tobring to the team. I bring physicality and defense, all that stuff. I just comeout there and play for the team. I just want to win. So I felt like I couldhave been able to contribute to any team. And I work hard. I want to play. Iwould have worked hard so I could play whatever team I went to.

WATCH: Klay Thompson stuffed by rim on 360 degree dunk in China

WATCH: Klay Thompson stuffed by rim on 360 degree dunk in China

Maybe Klay Thompson should stick to 3-point shooting and defense.

Riding the high of winning his second NBA title, Thompson is touring China and tried to execute a 360 degree dunk on an outdoor court.

It didn't go well at all.

Thompson got stuffed on the front of the rim and went crashing to the asphalt. He was sprawled out along the baseline for a few seconds before returning to his feet.

No word on the health of the rim.

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.”