Last season, rookie head coach Mark Jackson introduced himself to the Bay Area media with a bold prediction that his Warriors would make the playoffs for the first time since the We Believe team shocked the NBA world in 2007.This year, Jackson has avoided any guarantees. But Stephen Curry thinks that his coach is just as confident as he was a year ago.Ask his wife or his family, they probably heard him saying we're going to the playoffs this year, Curry said Monday at Warriors media day. He'd probably say it to us, you know we're going to get there, so that will never change and that's why we do what we do.Even though Jacksons preseason statement last year put pressure on his players, Curry appreciates the confidence his coach exudes.He made us believe that we were going to make the playoffs last year when we heard him say that, Curry said. You want your coach to have confidence in you, especially a first-time coach who knows what this roster is. So to have that much faith in us, that does go a long way in the locker room.Curry, as one of the teams captains along with Andrew Bogut and David Lee, is ready for a bigger leadership role in Jacksons locker room. He even said hes ready to scream at teammates if necessary.They know that we're going to have an atmosphere in our locker room that guys can take criticism, take encouragement and make each other better, Curry said. So we're not going to be a sensitive team or when one guy yells and somebody holds grudges. Everybody is sick of losing so something has got to change and we've got to figure out how to make each other better throughout the process of the season.Veteran Richard Jefferson thinks that the maturation of the Warriors young core is crucial if the team wants to end its lengthy playoff drought. So whose job is it to help the players focus on the task at hand?It's Coach Jackson's job, it's my job, it's mainly their job, Jefferson said. How seriously are they going to take this after losses, after wins? Are you letting it shrug off your shoulders because you only won X amount of games over the last couple of years. No, it's how serious you take this, how much of a profession you make this. Are you in every single day taking shots whether you went 10-for-10 or 0-for-10? That's what it means to go to the next level.Does Jefferson see that level of commitment from his teammates?Yes, but only time will tell, Jefferson said. Everyone right now is undefeated and for the most part everyone is healthy. Everyone is in the playoffs. So right now it's very optimistic and rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Where we are at the All-Star break and where we are with 25 games to go, where we are at the end of the season, that will kind of let us know what we've learned.Other than maturity, Jefferson believes that the health of the Warriors new-look roster will go a long way in determining their fate this season.I think it's an improved team, but you have to stay healthy, Jefferson said. You never know what can happen. I played with Andrew Bogut one year in Milwaukee, Michael Redd tears his ACL, and this was a guy that didn't miss many games in his career. Bogut obviously had his back injury. So we had a really good team on paper, but then some key injuries happened and we weren't able to accomplish our goals. So staying healthy is half the battle.Bogut and Curry are the big question marks health-wise heading into the season, but both expect to play in the Warriors first game on Oct. 31 in Phoenix.Right now it's about being healthy, Curry said. I have no concern about plays as long as I'm out there on the floor. Just being present; can't help the team from the bench. But team-wise, we're not guaranteeing anything. We're not going to say we're better than we are. Our goal is to make the playoffs; that should be every team's goal. You build on that, winning championships and all that. So we're just trying to make the playoffs and take it from there.
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.”
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