TJD proving he can be Warriors' primary center as minutes increase

TJD proving he can be Warriors' primary center as minutes increase originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Lost amid the shambles of the Warriors' 119-112 loss to the New York Knicks on Monday at Chase Center was another solid game by Trayce Jackson-Davis.

The Warriors rookie has developed into a solid rim protector on defense who possesses enough offensive athleticism to haul in alley-oop passes from near midcourt with ease before jamming the ball home.

Jackson-Davis had 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks off the bench and was one of the few Golden State players to have any sort of offensive consistency against New York. He made all nine shots that he took and reached double figures for the sixth time in his last seven games.

“He’s been a great spark off the bench,” Stephen Curry said. “Him and [Chris Paul], and even Klay [Thompson], have a nice chemistry in pick-and-roll situations. He’s understood the pictures a lot on defense to know where to be to get those blocks and get those hustle plays and give us a huge presence inside.

“I think he’s proven that he’s learning on the fly, and he’s making a huge impact in his minutes. You’re starting to see him with different lineups, even next to Draymond [Green] for a good run. You need that size and that presence. He’s doing everything in his power to impact the game.”

Jackson-Davis definitely has done that.

The Warriors have been searching for production out of the center position for most of the season. Kevon Looney was the guy earlier this season, then Green took over at the 5 for the small lineup once he returned from a second NBA suspension.

Jackson-Davis, who has had a handful of starts, is forcing coach Steve Kerr to play him more. Since mid-February, the No. 57 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft has seen his time on the court increase on almost a daily basis. The 25:44 minutes he clocked against the Knicks were the third most in a game that he hasn’t started.

Jackson-Davis became the eighth player in franchise history during the shot-clock era to take at least nine shots without a miss. Jonathan Kuminga was 11-for-11 earlier this season.

Jackson-Davis also has given the Warriors a legitimate lob threat. Against the Knicks, Paul tossed one to him from near the midcourt logo.

“Just throw it up there, he’ll go get it,” Gary Payton II said. “He’ll make the right play.”

Curry said Jackson-Davis’ development has given the Warriors a new threat.

“When he sets good screens and you have to pay attention to other guys on the floor, his timing and his leaping ability and his pressure on the rim, it gives us a different dynamic,” Curry said. “Now we have to utilize that and then get everything else going.”

Jackson-Davis credits Paul, Looney and other veterans on the roster for helping his development.

“It’s night and day different for me, how I see the game,” Jackson-Davis said. “CP’s done a great job with me, talking to me, telling me things I need to do, and it shows. All the vets have been huge in helping me development. They give me confidence every time I step on the floor.”

Paul expects more from the rookie and said that Jackson-Davis’ consistency remains the key.

“In this league, you have to keep doing it night after night after night after night,” Paul said. “We’ve been seeing [Jackson-Davis’ development], but we’re going to keep doing the work. Lot of work to do.”

Asked what he prefers, blocking shots or snagging alley-oop passes for dunks, Jackson-Davis smiled.

“I love getting blocks, but at the same time, getting lobs from CP, Klay, Steph, you can’t beat that either,” he said.

The only question seemingly remaining for Jackson-Davis is how much his playing time will increase down the stretch.

It’s a question that only Kerr can answer, and the Warriors coach usually is reticent to address those types of topics.

Regardless, Jackson-Davis seems content with however many minutes he gets.

“Whenever my name’s called, I’m just going to continue to play hard," Jackson-Davis said. “That’s just something I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year. Whatever minutes I get, from here to the end of the season, I’ll make the most of.”

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