Warriors rookie Podziemski forces Kerr's hand with breakout performance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – When Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were ejected in the second minute of the game Tuesday night at Chase Center, Warriors coach Steve Kerr turned and glanced at a bench offering seven possible replacements, two of them rookies.
And we know Kerr loves his veterans.
Thus began Dub Nation’s love affair with Brandin Podziemski.
With his NBA experience totaling 52 minutes, spread out over six games, Podziemski stepped onto the floor as if he owned it. In 10 first-quarter minutes, the 6-foot-4 guard from Santa Clara University produced nine points, three assists and two rebounds.
Podziemski finished with a team-high 23 points, playing a team-high 39 minutes. He couldn’t push the Warriors past the Timberwolves – whose fourth-quarter comeback sent Golden State to a 104-101 loss – but he earned a bigger role.
“He’s going to play,” Kerr said afterward. “He’s going to play every night. He’s earned that.”
Podziemski brings a range of skills and a deep bag of intangibles, which make him one of those players found on every good team. He’s plucky on both ends, has a way of finding rebounds in traffic and flipping dimes to his teammates.
“I look at myself like a spare tire,” Podziemski said. “Whenever something is wrong with the tire, I just go in and fix it. Whatever coach asks me, that is what I have to do.”
The sellout crowd (18,064) at Chase Center repeated showed their appreciation for Podziemski, whether he was diving for a loose ball, banking in a 3-pointer from the corner and wedging between 7-footers Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns to steal a rebound.
“His energy is contagious,” Chris Paul said. “It’s another ball-handler that’s out there that’s able to attack, defend. We talk about it all the time; we don’t have some regular rookies. We got some rooks who pay attention, know what they're doing.
“To be on a team like this, this early in the season, valuable minutes in big games, it's only going to be good in the long haul.”
Asked to replace Thompson, Podziemski scored more points than Klay has in any game this season. His five assists eclipsed Klay’s season-high of four. Podziemski’s seven rebounds are more than forward Andrew Wiggins had grabbed in any game before Tuesday.
Naturally, there will be more “Podz” in the games ahead.
“I am not going to say that I have a particular role,” Podziemski said. “Just whatever coach asks of me, whether it is starting, coming off the bench or not playing, I will be ready for all three.”
Kerr described has Podziemski as “cocky,” the same description offered by Stephen Curry a few days ago. Both insist it’s a “good cocky” and welcome on this roster.
“He’s always in the right spot, he’s fearless, and he connects the game,” Kerr said. “He plays the way we want to play. The ball moves when he’s out there, he’s attacking at the right times, he’s cutting at the right times. Defensively he’s really good.
“He’s a damn good player so he’s going to play.”
The coach will get no argument from his staff or from Dub Nation. Or those who really matter.
The vets are on board – because Podziemski is such an advanced rookie that he offers a veteran presence.