Discover more from Dub Nation HQ
Steve Kerr on Dario Šarić, Usman Garuba, Trayce Jackson-Davis and the need for another big
Coach Kerr is very comfortable with the big man rotation going into camp
Part of the franchise DNA of the Warriors is the never ending quest for a True Big Man, which, despite everyone’s best intentions, has led GSW into its most infamous personnel moves (Robert Parish, Joe Barry Carroll, Chris Webber, weird roster moves to hopelessly court DeAndre Jordan, hopelessly courting Dwight Howard before settling for some guy named Andre Iguodala, James Wiseman).
Even today, Dub Nation looks at our roster with no seven-footers and looks out with great anxiety at a cold world with Jokic, Embiid and Giannis looming.
Ultimately, GSW can only bring in a center on a minimum contract. This center is going to be behind Draymond for sure on the depth chart. He’ll also be behind Looney (proven championship big) and Saric (sweet shooting stretch big). So you’re asking for a player coming in on a minimum to fight with Garuba and Jackson-Davis in a three-way death combat for the fourth center’s minutes. What fourth-string center is going to make a difference against Jokic? Jokic just swept Anthony Davis and the Lakers! And that center will eat the development minutes of Garuba and TJD.
So everyone agrees it would be great to have a seven-foot master defender (Bogut where are you now?). Everyone agrees you can’t have a seven-footer who can’t play or who will disrupt the team chemistry. So the disagreement is in how much you compromise to have a True Big Man on the roster.
Is it worth bringing in a possibly washed Dwight Howard? GSW decided no. (I’d guess the Howard camp did itself zero favors by probably leaking to the press that Howard had been okayed by the veterans to join the team. That alone is a sign that they were not going to be team players.)
Coach Steve Kerr sounds pretty comfortable now that he has Saric as a stretch big. Here are extended notes transcribed from Steve Kerr’s press conference on 2023-09-25:
Steve, how are you feeling about the center rotation, entering training camp right now? And I know you don't necessarily place a huge emphasis on size. Could you kind of reiterate your feelings about that?
Well, first of all, I'm very comfortable. I think signing Dario was huge for our team. He is really the kind of player that fits us well. A little bit like [Nemanja] Bjelica a couple of years ago. He's a different player than Belly, but there's a similar style in terms of his ability to connect the game with shooting and passing and an awareness court awareness. Dario's bigger than Belly. He's a very physical player, but he's going to fit as well, either as a five or you know, playing in a two big lineup as well. So I think his addition really made all of us feel very comfortable going into to camp at that spot.
And then I think the addition of Usman to the two way spot was a really nice pickup as well. He's a young player who's got some of the qualities that Draymond and Loon have. You know he's not going to wow you with athleticism, but. Strength. Awareness. Length. Ability to guard multiple positions. Usman is a good player and I think we're excited to be able to add him to that rotation as well.
Apricot: I’m excited to hear Kerr talk about Garuba as part of a rotation!
And then with Trayce, can you talk about the importance of four years college, 124 games, to come into a system like that as a rookie and what part of his game do you think that can maybe be expanded coming in the NBA as a double double guy, like he was at Indiana?
Yeah. Trayce is an impressive young prospect. You don't see that kind of college experience very often anymore. But you immediately recognize the experience level and the advantage that that gives him. What I like about Trayce, he plays the way we like to play. He’s a good passer, you know, dribble handoff guy at the top of the key, good screener, gives us a lob threat that we don't otherwise have, which is a really nice addition. And I think he's just he's the kind of guy who feels the game well. He's got a good feel for for passing, cutting movement, and a lot of the stuff that we already run. He runs really well. So, Trayce is a really intriguing prospect and it’ll be fun to watch him play.
Apricot: Have I mentioned I have an irrational good feeling about this guy?
Bonus TK Show quotes from Steve Kerr
Right after I wrote this, Tim Kawakami released an interview with Steve Kerr, in which Kerr himself independently brings up my remarks above about Anthony Davis not being able to stop Jokic, along with some more details, so here you get some bonus quotes.
I'm really excited about the addition of Dario Saric. I think he was a crucial, crucial signing for us. You think about our team two years ago that won the championship. One of the reasons we won is we had Belly and Otto Porter, two bigs who could shoot and play make on the perimeter and tie together certain combinations. So, you know, you look at Saric, he's a bigger and stronger version of Bjelica. You know, really good pick and pop player, but also very strong, very physical, great screen setter, great dribble handoff guy.
Played with Chris Paul on Phoenix at a really high level. Chris told me that he thought Dario's injury against Milwaukee early in that series was one of the reasons Milwaukee came back. He felt that strongly that Dario was so important to that series and to their team. And remember, he tore his ACL in, I think it was game one or game two of the series. So we're getting him, you know, two years after the ACL. He's only 29. He's a guy who just connects lineups and everyone. play with them. And so, Dario is a huge, hugely important addition and I'm thrilled to have him.
Big men in the Kerr system
That does bring the topic of big men who work in the Kerr system. Andrew Bogut has drilled this into me: it's hard to play center. You know, you've got to move, you've got to know where Steph is, you've got to know where Draymond is. Without trying to be tough on people in the past but is that part of the lesson of the last few years that it's just it's a certain type of big man who works and there's a certain type of big man who's going to struggle playing with these guys?
Yeah, but I think it's also where the game has gone, Tim. It's not just the Warriors, you know, it's, you know, and you want to have passing and playmaking at every position today in the NBA. It's like in, you know, Premier League, you got goalkeepers who are playmakers now and handling the ball and becoming extra passers and it's no longer the old days where you just needed a center who just block shots and rebounds. You want playmaking from all five spots.
That's why Bogut was so great, brilliant passer, screen setter. So, the guys who can pass are the ones who are going to thrive. That's why Zaza Pachulia was a very effective player for us. You know, if you can pass now all of a sudden, you're unlocking so much with Steph and Klay off the ball because you're not just setting ball screens for them, but you're delivering the ball to them and that's what Dario can do. It's going to open up our offense, having him out on the floor for sure.
Everybody says, "Well, you need somebody to guard Jokic." It's like, "Yeah, good luck." You know, like, I thought Anthony Davis last year was the key to our whole series. You know, he just took away our spacing and was so dominant defensively. You know, maybe the best defensive center in the NBA and then they get swept by Denver and Jokic was incredible. So, if Anthony Davis is going to struggle with Jokic, so is everybody else.
And so, you can't just look at it and say, "Well, we need somebody who's really big and strong to guard Jokic." You also have to say, "All right, at the other end, what are we going to do? You know, how can we make the game more even, when you're going against a guy like that?" Well, it's with playmaking and passing and putting the other guy in a difficult spot. And that's the balance you're really looking for. So, you know, you could you could you could throw a big guy out there on Jokic and it may not matter and then you're gonna be less effective on offense at the same time and you're really in a tough spot.
Dub Nation HQ is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.