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Santa Cruz Weekly Write-Up: Sea Dubs Return Home for Weekend Back-to-Back
By Kevin Danna
Santa Cruz Warriors broadcaster Kevin Danna provides an update on what's going on with the Sea Dubs.
1. How's the team doing?
The Santa Cruz Warriors wrapped up a 1-2 road trip to Austin and Northern Arizona and are sitting 10-7 overall, two and a half games behind the South Bay Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division. After an impressive win Thursday in Austin, the Sea Dubs lost a close one Sunday in the back-end of their two-game set against the Spurs before, well, not exactly having their best performance of the season Tuesday night in Northern Arizona. The 138-94 loss to the Suns goes down as the worst loss by margin of defeat in franchise history and the 54-point deficit the Sea Dubs faced in the second half is the largest deficit in franchise history. It's just one loss and the Sea Dubs are 10-7 with three of the next four coming at home, so it's far from a crippling defeat. Blowout losses happen to the best of 'em.
2. How are the guys on the Golden State roster doing?
It has been great to see Quinn Cook earn his first career NBA start last Wednesday at Charlotte and get rotation minutes for a championship team, not to mention be a real positive contributor. The downside of that from a G League perspective is that when Cook isn't with Santa Cruz, the Sea Dubs suffer. The G League Warriors are 8-2 with Cook in the lineup and just 2-5 without him. Obviously, the hope is for Quinn to play in as many NBA games as possible and for Santa Cruz to be successful without him when he's not in Surf City. It certainly hasn't helped that Santa Cruz really only had eight rotation players during this most recent three-game road swing, and a healthy Michael Gbinije, Chris Boucher and Trevor Thompson will certainly help things. But for the time being, Santa Cruz has certainly missed Cook's presence.
Meanwhile, Golden State assignee Damian Jones has continued to be a force in the G League, recording double-doubles in four of his last five games and still leading the G League in field goal percentage by a mile at 70 percent. In Sunday's loss to the Spurs, Jones tied a franchise-record by blocking seven shots (oh yeah, he's also second in the G League in blocks).
I've had multiple people say to me "but Kevin, he's just dunking the ball. Of course he has a high shooting percentage." Well, if you had Damian's height and athleticism, wouldn't you dunk it every chance you had?! Yes, his back-to-the-basket game needs work; yes, he is still in development mode – that's what he's in the G League for. But the guy has improved significantly from last year, and while he does have a lot of basket finishes, he has also hit 10 two-point jumpers and is 2-of-3 from downtown on the season. He does have a nice touch for a traditional big man and is very good at negotiating the baseline for agile reverse layups.
3. Who else has been impressing lately?
It's time we gave Cleanthony Early a little love in this segment. One of three guys who have started all 17 games this season alongside Damian Jones and Georges Niang, Early has been a model of on-court consistency for the Sea Dubs. Early has scored in double figures in nine-straight games and has the length to bother opponents on defense. It's easy to see why this guy was drafted by the New York Knicks back in 2014.
While Tuesday night was a rough performance for the team, Damion Lee played his tail off and led the way with 20 points. Like Early, Lee has also scored in double figures in nine-straight games and has upped his scoring average to 15.5 points per game as he approaches the 1-year mark of tearing his ACL with the Maine Red Claws.
4. What's next?
Santa Cruz has home back-to-back dates with the Memphis Hustle on Friday and Westchester Knicks on Saturday. Both teams have NBA veteran point guards in Marquis Teague (Memphis) and Trey Burke (Westchester), so the Sea Dubs will have their hands full in the backcourt for what should be some exciting matchups. After this weekend, the schedule lightens up, as the Warriors will play just two games from Dec. 17-29 before a four-game road trip to the East Coast that leads up to the G League Showcase. If Santa Cruz can take three of these next four to head into the road trip with a 13-8 record, the Sea Dubs will be in pretty good shape.
Saturday's game against the Knicks will be broadcast on Twitch, as the G League just announced that it will be streaming up to six games per week on the social video platform for gamers. Pretty timely announcement considering that the Golden State Warriors just announced that they will have an affiliate team – the Warriors Gaming Squad – compete in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League.