May 28, 2024


SAN FRANCISCO: When Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were both ejected in the first two minutes of the Warriors’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves almost two weeks ago, nobody took advantage of their opportunity more than rookie Brandin Podziemski.

Podziemski replaced two-thirds of Golden State’s Big Three in the game, along with veteran center Kevon Looney for the Warriors. Podziemski made an immediate impression. It took the top pick selected by the Warriors in this year’s draft barely two minutes to make his first 3-pointer of the game. Podziemski led the Warriors in scoring at the end of the first quarter, finishing with nine points on four of five shots and a plus-10 rating.

Steph Curry was already absent for the Warriors. Podziemski proved to be the most valuable player for them as he scored a career-high 23 points on 9 of 18 shots in 39 minutes against the Timberwolves. They needed scoring from both rookies and veterans.

After a stellar sophomore season at Santa Clara, shooting was Podziemski’s most noticeable skill when he entered the NBA. However, since making his professional debut in the Warriors’ opening game of the season, the 20-year-old has demonstrated that his feel for the game allows him to do a variety of tasks. However, Steve Kerr wants Podziemski to understand what’s on the table in front of him, including his bread and butter.

When asked about Podziemski on Monday following Warriors practice, Kerr responded, “You know I’m a baseball fan.” It’s as if you have to set up your other stuff with your fastball. Additionally, I believe Brandin has five distinct pitches, but he needs to work on organizing them. He is a very skilled shooter.

However, having that as a reliable source of information should make it his fastball. Although he’s still developing as a player, he should consider, “I’m going to knock down the shot if it’s open,” because he has a ton of other options available to him in terms of how he attacks closeouts, passes the ball, and cuts.

After a dustup marred Podziemski’s breakout performance, Kerr said the player wouldn’t be leaving the rotation anytime soon. Nor was the coach of the Warriors playing around.

In the Warriors’ first 11 games, Podziemski averaged just 8.7 minutes, was inactive for one, and received four DNPs (did not play). In all five of the Warriors’ games since his 23-point performance in which he was a plus-11 in a three-point loss, Podziemski has averaged 20.6 minutes per game.

It has also been interesting to watch who he has played with the most. Podziemski has spent the most time on the court with Chris Paul, who he has played with in 10 games and 110 minutes combined. In this instance, Paul is mostly in charge of the offense, keeping Podziemski off the ball.

A 108.2 offensive rating, a 99.6 defensive rating, and an 8.7 net rating are the outcomes.

But when playing with Steph Curry, he hasn’t been nearly as good. In this situation, Podziemski makes more on-ball plays. In six games, he and Curry have combined for 38 minutes of play. Together, they have a net rating of minus-15.2, 112.7 defensive, and 97.4 offensive.

Podziemski remarked of playing with Paul, “I think it’s been a little bit of an adjustment for me, especially going back to college with me predominantly being on the ball.” And while I’m more off the ball with CP, I get to play more of my natural position and like facilitate with Steph. However, I typically get the ball to make a good shot.

It is therefore somewhat different. I’m here for whatever, though, because it’s what the team needs.

Which is perhaps the best thing about Podziemski that the Warriors liked before the NBA draft.

Podziemski isn’t seen by Kerr as a point guard. Nor does he regard him as a shooting guard. Kerr, though, adores Podziemski for who he is and what a player he is.

“What I love about Brandin is that he’s just a guard,” Kerr said. “Some guys are strictly a point, some guys are strictly a two – he’s a guard. He can play either spot, he connects any group that he plays with.”

For Podziemski, the most effective strategy appears to be playing off the ball in a lineup that leans more toward a pass-first point guard. In 46 minutes, the lefty’s offensive rating with Cory Joseph is even higher at 115.1.

For Podziemski, the first few games were all about getting a feel for the NBA. He then unleashed heat on the Timberwolves after emerging from the bullpen. One thing has been evident ever since: Podziemski is locating his fastball.

Podziemski is averaging 6.8 points per game and shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc, making an average of three 3-pointers per night, since that scoring explosion against Minnesota. This includes his scoreless performance against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

Before then, Podziemski averaged 8.5 points on 6.0 field goals made per game over a stretch of four games, including two games in which he scored in double figures. He shot 45.8 percent overall and 46.2 percent from beyond the arc.

In response to teammates’ and coaches’ requests to shoot even more, Podziemski said, “Yeah, I think since training camp started I’ve heard that a lot.” However, I basically just aim to make the best play. I believe that my focus in my final year of college was more on self-creation for myself and others than on catching and shooting. It took some getting used to, but lately I think I’ve been shooting the ball fairly well. And many of those have arrived

“In my opinion, Steve does an excellent job discussing the fastball in general. The play has already been written for you, so Steph did a great job of telling me to just shoot the best shots and let it fly. We don’t really care if you miss or not.

After one month of play, the Warriors already have a significant issue and are pushing their first-round pick to close the distance, release the ball, and never look back.


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