SACRAMENTO Warriors rookie Harrison Barnes started for thethird consecutive preseason game on Wednesday in Sacramento, but coach MarkJackson still says you shouldnt read anything into it.Jackson said he still hasnt made up his mind who will be thestarting small forward come opening night on Oct. 31 against the Phoenix Suns:Barnes or Brandon Rush.Jackson started Rush in the first two preseason games beforegoing with Barnes three straight.Not committed either way right now, Jackson said beforethe Warriors 98-88 victory over the Kings at Sleep Train Arena. Im verypleased with B. Rush and Harrison has done some good things on the floor and iscontinuing to get better. But Im not sold either way. The great thing about itis that both of those guys will have a key part to the success of theteam.After the game, Jackson was asked if either playerdistinguished himself and he made it clear hes not losing any sleep over whowill start.It would be different if the starter was going to play 40minutes and the other guy was going to be lost, Jackson said. Theyre goingto get their minutes and its not really a big deal.When it comes to Barnes and Rush, the reality is theyrelikely to split time at the position. There are 48 minutes to divvy up at thesmall forward spot, and Rush also has shown the ability to play shootingguard.The one thing Jackson has maintained throughout thepreseason is that hell start the player who blends the best with the startingunit. If thats the case, perhaps Rush is a better fit.The reason: Jackson said Rush is his best perimeterdefender.So it would seem to make some sense to have a defensiveplayer in a lineup that also includes point guard Stephen Curry, shooting guardKlay Thompson and power forward David Lee none of whom excel at that end ofthe floor.At the same time, Jackson could alleviate some pressure onBarnes by bringing him off the bench. That also would likely give Barnes moreof an offensive role since he would be more relied upon to score with thesecond unit.Then again, maybe Jackson has a comfort level with Rush as asubstitute. Rush was a major bright spot off the bench last year for theWarriors, putting together a career year in scoring and 3-point shootingpercentage.Barnes, on the other hand, said the last time he came offthe bench was in ninth grade.Said Jackson: We have the luxury of having two guys who canplay Im very pleased with both of them.
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 product 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.”
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:
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"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."
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
Jordan Bell's locker is right next to Draymond Green's locker. I don't think that's a coincidence— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) June 23, 2017
Jordan Bell mentions Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Who is going to break the news to him that Kevin Durant is on the team?— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) June 23, 2017
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller