Usually, when a veteran schools a rookie, it’s on the court.
But not this time. Veteran Warriors center Kevon Looney has some advice for rookie James Wiseman. If you’ll recall, in Golden State’s win over the Timberwolves on Monday, coach Steve Kerr removed Wiseman from the starting lineup in favor of Looney.
Each player responded well, as did the whole team against a young Wolves squad, and judging from that performance, one might assume the switch at center is here to stay.
But not so fast, says Looney. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, he told Wiseman that when it comes to the Warriors, coach Kerr isn’t hesitant to change starters on any occasion.
The “Warriors way.” Looney with the analysis. You gotta love it.
Looney is indeed a wise veteran — wise beyond his years, even. Kerr’s most high-profile switch at center came in the 2015 NBA Finals, when he sat starter Andrew Bogut on the bench in favor of small-ball center and current Warrior Draymond Green. Green moved to center to accommodate new starter Andrew Iguodala, whom Kerr called up from the bench.
Kerr pulled the trigger when Golden State was down 2-1 to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and the Warriors came back to win the series, their first NBA title in the Kerr/Stephen Curry era, with Iguodala earning MVP honors.
Additionally, lots of centers have cycled through the organization since Kerr took over. Players like Anderson Varejao, James Michael McAdoo, Festus Ezeli, Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee and others have all donned the blue and gold and contributed to championships.
And when all those players — okay two more: Damian Jones and Jordan Bell — were together on the roster in various combinations, they would indeed switch roles often, as Looney has observed in some role since the 2015-16 campaign. Pachulia and McGee each saw starts in the pivot in the 2017-18 season, in a prime example.
With Marquese Chriss out for the season, the Warriors are down one center. Small-ball big man Eric Paschall has stepped up to fill yet another role in the paint. Wiseman might have gotten the idea about the Warriors’ way even before Looney told him all about it.
But Looney looked fantastic with the starters, and Kerr is confident Wiseman — who made some nice plays on Monday — can still develop in his new bench role. Paschall will stay in his small-ball center, instant-offense role off the bench, but other than that, Kerr could definitely make another switch. He’ll also likely ride his latest change out a while longer, however, starting on Wednesday night against the Timberwolves.
(Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)