Ezeli already making physical presence felt for Warriors

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Ezeli already making physical presence felt for Warriors

Programming Note: Insider Matt Steinmetz is in Las Vegas following the NBA Summer League. Stay logged on and tune into SportsNet Central as Matt files reports all week long with the latest on the Warriors.

LAS VEGAS About five minutes Thats how long you needed to watch the Warriors summerleague team practice on Wednesday afternoon before you noticed Festus Ezeli.It happened that quickly.What catches your eye first about Ezeli is his sheer size.Hes 6-foot-11, 270 pounds and he looks every bit of it. But if youre aWarriors fan, it gets even better.Of the 20 or so players participating for the Warriors atSierra Vista High School, nobody was more intense, more physical or more activethan Ezeli. He patrolled the lane, he helped beaten teammates with rimprotection, and, with all due respect, he didnt shut up.Lets just say hes going to help, said Warriors assistantcoach Pete Myers. Hes a specimen. He likes playing inside, likes settingscreens and he enjoys being physical. Hes got good lateral quickness for a bigguy.It would seem to make sense that Ezeli would assume the rolethat Kwame Brown had for the Warriors before he got hurt: rebounder, fouler atthe rim, lane-clogger and good, all-around teammate.Brown played only nine games before suffering aseason-ending pectoral injury, but in those games he averaged 6.3 points and6.3 rebounds per game. But if you watched each of those games you know Brownwas more valuable than the numbers.Simply put, Brown brought something the Warriorsdidnt have. Perhaps Ezeli can do the same in 2012-13.Thats why Im here, answered Ezeli, about becoming adefensive anchor. Thats what I am for this team. Thats what theyve asked meto be and thats what Ill be. Its what Ive always known. Vanderbilt was myfirst organized program and they trained me to be a defensive anchor so thatsall I know.Warriors coach Mark Jackson said one difference betweenBrown and Ezeli is that Brown, a veteran, knew all the tricks of the trade.Ezeli will have to figure those out.Myers said Ezelis biggest challenge right now is figuringout the Warriors defensive schemes and terminology. Ezeli agreed, but its notsomething he thinks will be a long-term problem.Its coming along, Ezeli said. Im trying to learn. Thereare a lot of things here that are different. Sometimes I have to fight myinstincts and try to learn how its done here. This is my new family, my newteam. Ive got to learn how to protect my teammates.As for Ezelis offensive game, well have we talked abouthis defense?His offense is still a ways away, Myers said. Hes notafraid, though. You throw it to him in the low post and hes going to look toscore. Hes not one of those guys who will pass it right out and set a screen.Hell try to be physical and get to the rim, which I like.I just think it will take some time to develop somelow-post moves."

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.”

Draymond uses expletives in text to Myers, calls Jordan Bell on FaceTime

Draymond uses expletives in text to Myers, calls Jordan Bell on FaceTime

At his introductory press conference on Friday afternoon, Jordan Bell said that he tries to emulate his game after Draymond Green.

He said that he can learn a lot from Draymond.

Then, Warriors GM Bob Myers directed his next words at the newest addition to the team:

[RELATED: Why are Warriors willing to pay for picks? Lacob: 'If you just do the math...']

"Draymond will be a fun challenge for you," Myers said as he laughed and grabbed Bell on the shoulder. "Draymond texted me after I was driving home (following the draft). And he said, 'What the expletive is your problem?' So you can fill in the blank. And then he said, 'I have to hear about this expletive on the internet, you didn't expletive tell me about it?'

"So I couldn't text and drive so I called him and said, 'OK. All right. Calm down.' He said, 'I need his number, I need to talk to him,' so I gave it to Draymond ... he's like our team mom in a way ... you're gonna love playing with him, because to be honest, with Draymond it's about respect ... that's the type of team we have but we feel like that's how you are, too."

So what exactly did Draymond to say the 2016-17 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year?

"So he FaceTime'd me ... and I was with my friends celebrating. I texted the number back and I was like, 'Who is this?' And then he didn't reply, so I called the number and I was like, 'Yo, who is this?'

"And then he was like, 'Yo. I FaceTime'd you. Hang up right now, FaceTime me back, don't call. So I was like, 'Yeah, you're right.' So I hung up and I FaceTime'd him and he didn't answer. And I was like, 'All right.' I was like I should wait a couple seconds, and I waited like five seconds and I called him back on FaceTime.

"He was like, 'Yo, enjoy this night. Celebrate it. It only happens once, but after this night, we have to get back to work. We trying to get rings over here, so be ready for it."

[RELATED: A behind-the-scenes look at Jordan Bell's NBA Draft party]

Other takeaways from the press conference:

- Andre Iguodala is one of Bell's favorite players of all-time
- Kevin Durant texted Bell on Friday to welcome him to the Warriors
- Steve Kerr called Bell after the draft and on Friday
- Steph Curry texted Myers after the Warriors paid the Bulls $3.5 million for the rights to Bell

And, finally:

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller