Warriors focus: Kent Bazemore

874665.jpg

Warriors focus: Kent Bazemore

Editor's note: This is the second of seven individual player analysis, focusing on new Warriors' faces.

The Warriors have made plenty of changes since the end ofthe 2011-12 season. They will likely have four first-year players on their rostercome the start of the season, and they also acquired veterans Jarrett Jack andCarl Landry.Center Andrew Bogut came to the Warriors in March, but hesa newcomer, too, if you factor in that he still hasnt played a game for theteam yet. With training camp set to begin in early October, lets begin ourplayer-by-player analysis of the Warriors new players.Kent Bazemore, 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, shootingguard.Whats most important to know about Bazemore -- at thispoint, anyway -- is that hes currently occupying the 15th roster spot, which isthe maximum number allowed in the NBA.Whats also very pertinent is that his contract isntguaranteed. That means that while the Warriors like Bazemore, there are noassurances hell be around for the whole season.Yes, theres a scenario in which Bazemore could spend theentire 2012-13 with the Warriors or their D-League affiliate, which is prettymuch what Chris Wright did last season.But Bazemore is also a candidate to be waived at any time --which is the nature of a non-guarantee.What Bazemore has going for him is that he has the potentialto be the teams best defender on point guards and shooting guards. That alonecould make him worth keeping around.Its not a secret that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, theWarriors projected starting backcourt, do not excel at the defensive end.Jack will help on thatend of the floor, but its not like hes a defensive stopper.Charles Jenkins is certainly improving defensively, butwere still talking about a stocky, 6-foot-3-ish sized player who isntoff-the-charts athletically.Bazemore, a left-hander, is a long 6-foot-5, and hesathletic. On top of that, hes got a defensive foundation, he has goodinstincts and he anticipates well. Bazemore comes into the league afterwinning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards in the ColonialAthletic Association his junior and senior seasons.Bazemore defended well for the Warriors in the Las VegasSummer League. He also averaged 1.8 blocks per game, including one game inwhich he had seven. Bazemores length sometimes gives smaller playersdifficulty, and in Vegas, he showed an ability to block shots from behind intransition.There were times this summer when Bazemore and Jenkinsplayed together -- with Bazemore defending the point guard and Jenkins theshooting guard.When you look at the Warriors roster -- top to bottom -- youcould see how a player such as Bazemore could stick around. After all, he hasthe ability to do something very important -- defending guards -- better thananyone else on the roster.You can see why the Warriors like that and like Bazemore,too. Then again, the Warriors liked Wright and Jeremy Lin and even DominicMcGuire -- and none of those players are still with the team.Still, Bazemore has a shot with the Warriors. Lets see whathappens.

Kevin Durant explains why Paul George is his favorite player in NBA

Kevin Durant explains why Paul George is his favorite player in NBA

OAKLAND – Like all elite athletes, Kevin Durant brings a fierce pride to his work. He takes the court each night to make a statement, and some nights are reserved for a very special statement.

Such is the case Monday night.

That’s when Durant and the Warriors face Indiana at Oracle Arena. Though Pacers All-Star Paul George is one of Durant’s good friends, that relationship turns salty when they share the court on opposite sides.

“He’s my favorite player in the league. I’ve been saying that for a while,” Durant said after shootaround Monday morning. “He’s just so smooth, man, and can do it all: can pass, can rebound, can defend, can shoot the J, can post up, handle the ball. He’s my favorite player.

“Just getting to know him over the last few years, it makes the competition even better when we play against each other. I‘ve got nothing but respect for Paul. It’s a mutual respect. We always have battles when we play against each other, so I’m looking forward to it tonight.”

The players, longtime USA teammates in international competition, are similar in some regards. Both are listed at 6-foot-9, though Durant is closer to 7 feet. Both play “small forward,” but also can slide to power forward. Both are excellent scorers but also very capable defenders. And both seem to have found the perfect symmetry between confidence and humility.

“We want the same things on the basketball court,” Durant said. “He’s low-maintenance. He’s a superstar, but he’s a low-maintenance guy, doesn’t need much. It’s the same type of attitude that I bring. Just loves to play the game. Loves to work, too, so we kind of clicked.”

Durant, 28, is averaging 27.3 points per game, which leads the Warriors and ranks seventh in the NBA. He’s also averaging 8.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

George, 26, is averaging 20.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He has missed seven games due to injuries but played 34 minutes Sunday night in a win over the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Durant recalled practicing with George, and also with Rockets star James Harden, during offseason sessions in LA. Three of the NBA’s best, on different teams, coming together to get better.

Which helps explain why Durant is happy for George, and pleased to see his friend back in action – not that it will be visible Monday night.

“When you’re on the court, you act like you don’t really know those guys,” Durant said. “And then, after the game is over, it’s all love. It brings a different level of competition to the game of basketball, and it’s been fun.”
 

NBA Gameday: Two elite stars clash in Durant vs George showdown

NBA Gameday: Two elite stars clash in Durant vs George showdown

OAKLAND – The Warriors will seek a successful conclusion to their five-game homestand Monday night, when they face the Indiana Pacers at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors have won three of four over the past nine days at home and 13 of their last 14 overall. They also own the NBA’s best record (17-3) and rank No. 1 in scoring (119.1 points per game).

The Pacers (10-10), however, will be a very different team than that which the Warriors pasted 120-83 two weeks ago in Indianapolis. All-Star forward Paul George, terrific young center Myles Turner and guard C.J. Miles all missed that game with injuries.

Indiana is coming off a 111-102 victory Sunday night over the Clippers in Los Angeles. The Pacers wiped out a 13-point second-half deficit to take the win.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 13.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kevin Durant vs. Paul George. Both are oversized “small” forwards with high-end athleticism. Durant is having an MVP-level season, while George has been a tick below his usual lofty standard, partly because he has been fighting injuries. He’s healthy now. This battle of elite players is deserving of a spotlight.

LAST 10

Warriors: 9-1.

Pacers: 6-4.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: No injuries listed.

Pacers: No injuries listed.

ROSTER NOTE

Warriors: C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the D-League.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first meeting, 120-83, on Nov. 21 in Indianapolis, and have won three straight and five of the last six. The Warriors have won seven of the last nine at Oracle Arena.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Ball security. The Warriors can get sloppy at times, often against mediocre opponents, but Indy’s active defense is good enough to make them pay. The Pacers are tops in the league in forcing turnovers (16 per game) and second in steals.

Pound the glass. Though the Warriors are not a particularly strong rebounding team, ranking 19th in rebounding percentage, they’ll need to be good enough to take advantage of a Pacers team that ranks dead list in that category.

Contain Myles. Pacers center Myles Turner came to Oakland as a 19-year-old rookie last season and spent the evening punishing the Warriors, ringing up 31 points – his career-high. The Warriors had no answer for the 6-foot-11, 280-pound specimen, who happens to be a spectacular athlete.