NBA mailbag: Should Rush start at small forward?

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NBA mailbag: Should Rush start at small forward?

Mailtime Brandon Rush as a starter, your thoughts? Jason,San Francisco.Steinmetz: You know what? I wasnt giving Rushmuch of a shot at being the starting small forward until he said that was hisgoal a couple of weeks back. Rush provided a legitimate spark off the bench forthe Warriors a year ago, and a safe assumption would be hed have the same rolethis year.But the more I think about it, the more I think its apossibility.Conventional wisdom is that rookie Harrison Barnes or perhaps Richard Jefferson will stepinto the starting small forward role. Butmaybe Barnes wont be ready to be a full-time starter on Day 1. And maybeJefferson isnt the best option there, either.Rush is the best 3-point shooter of that threesome and hesalso got the potential to be the best defender of the three at least earlyinto the season with Barnes still getting his feet wet.Another thing to keep an eye on is that the one thing coachMark Jackson seems to covet in his lineup is toughness. Its why DominicMcGuire had such a big role on the team last season, and its why Rush couldemerge as the starter at small forward.Its not that Rush is a defensive stopper, but on manynights hell give the Warriors their best shot at defending competent andathletic opposing small forwards.Do you think Bob Myers really needed to clarify hiscomments about Mark Jackson and the team earlier this week? Trapped, BayArea.Steinmetz: Not really, and I dont think he wouldhave had I not asked him directly about it.But I have no problem with Myers reaching out to Jacksonafter realizing that what he said might have not come out perfectly.The whole quote about giving Jackson something to workwith and that the team should be improved -- was much ado about nothing. AllMyers said was that he felt like the organization had given Jackson more towork with this upcoming season than it did last season, and that he expectedthe results to be different.The life span of most NBA coaches is not a long one. Factsare facts and there just arent many coaches who can survive consecutive losingseasons. Its the nature of the business.Injuries or no, the Warriors are coming off a 23-43 season,and they have way more talent this season than last. It only stands to reasonthat everyone is expecting bigger and better things in 2012-13.If the Warriors dont make the playoffs this season it willbe disappointing. And if that does happen, it only makes sense to take a lookat what went wrong whether its front office moves, team chemistry orcoaching.Could the Warriors start Jarrett Jack in thepreseason and see how it goes? Seems like it would be smart to work Curry inslowly. Scott, Bay Area.Steinmetz: I just cant see that happening. Thefocus of Currys entire rehab was to have him 100 percent by training camp, andit looks like thats going to happen. If Curry is healthy, he has to be yourstarter, and here are the reasons:First, youve got to find out more about him as a player.Does he have the potential to be an upper-tier point guard long-term? ManyWarriors fans believe he does, and so this would be the year for Curry to provethat.The only way hes going to prove that is if hes gettingstarters minutes and hes healthy.WATCH: Curry on his health: 'I feel great'
Secondly, if you want to have any chance of re-signingCurry, hes got to be the starter. Why would Curry want to re-sign in GoldenState if hes playing behind Jarrett Jack?Look, there are plenty of people out there who believe Curryis best-suited to be a sixth man, or the first guard off the bench. But itstoo early in his career for Curry to concede that, and you cant blame him forthat.Theres no doubt the Warriors should monitor Currys minutesthis season after coming off an injury plagued 2012-13. But that can happenwith Curry being the starter.The bottom line is if Jack starts ahead of Curry, I thinkyou could safely say that Currys days in Golden State are numbered then.The NBA is a joke. Just say it: Three teams have achance next year. Thats it. NBA is horrible. Vic, Bay Area.Steinmetz: I dont think its a joke, but I dothink the NBA is going to have to figure this super-team thing out. One of thereasons the league and teams gave for locking out the players last year was torestore some kind of competitive balance. But, in essence, the new CBA didnothing to address that.Every player in the league knows that in order to win atitle, youre going to have to go through Miami at this point. Well, the onlyway youre going to beat Miami is to assemble a team with at least two eliteplayers. Thats what the Lakers tried to do by getting Howard.Its what the Nets are trying to do find someone to playalongside Deron Williams. Its why Dallas had Dwight Howard and Williams ontheir radar before free agency.Id say, however, that more than three teams can win thetitle, but its not much more than that. Id give Miami, San Antonio, theLakers, Oklahoma City, Boston and perhaps even the Clippers a shot to win itall.

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.”