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Santa Cruz Weekly Write-Up: Sea Dubs Acquire NBA Veteran Terrence Jones

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?

Santa Cruz split its home back-to-back last weekend, falling to the Memphis Hustle 123-115 on Friday night before eclipsing the Westchester Knicks 106-98 Saturday night. The win over Westchester has the Sea Dubs at 11-8 and in third place in the Pacific Division, two games back of the first-place South Bay Lakers and a half-game behind the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (yes, the G League has its own Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim now).

One piece of news that figures to help Santa Cruz climb the division ladder is that the Sea Dubs acquired five-year NBA veteran Terrence Jones on Monday. Jones, who is making his way back to the States after starting the season off in China, has NBA career averages of 10.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in 232 games (118 starts), huge numbers for a guy who is on a G League contract. He has TWICE scored 36 points in an NBA game, last doing so against the Cleveland Cavaliers in January.

“I just want to come here and be a part of something special, and help win as many games as I can and just be here to learn and to grow,” Jones told me in a recent interview.

This team still isn’t fully health yet, but when it is, the rotation will feature the following guys at the top of it – Quinn Cook, Damian Jones, Chris Boucher (hopefully back sometime in the next month or so), Terrence Jones, Cleanthony Early, Georges Niang, Michael Gbinije, Damion Lee, James Southerland and Alex Hamilton. Eight of those guys are either currently on an NBA contract or have NBA regular season experience, while the other two (Lee and Hamilton) have NBA training camp experience. In other words, the roster is loaded.

2. How are the guys on the Golden State roster doing?

There was one big difference between the two games last weekend, outside of one being a win and the other being a loss: Quinn Cook. The Golden State two-way player joined his team on the bench Friday night but did not suit up because he played Thursday night with the Big League Dubs against the Dallas Mavericks, and Golden State and Santa Cruz didn’t want a situation in which Cook would play three straight nights before re-joining Golden State on its trip to Los Angeles. With Cook back in the fold for Saturday’s game, the Sea Dubs thrived, shooting 56 percent and dishing out 30 assists on 42 made baskets against the Knicks. Cook didn’t miss a step in his return to the lineup, going off for 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting in a marquee point guard battle with Westchester’s Trey Burke, the No. 9 pick of the 2013 NBA Draft and a longtime friend of Cook’s (Burke did have 35, but it came on 32 shots).

Cook is clearly one of the best players in the G League, and the Sea Dubs receive a significant boost when he is in the lineup: Santa Cruz is now 9-2 when Cook plays and 2-6 when he doesn’t.

Damian Jones rebounded from a modest Friday outing against Memphis (10 points and six rebounds on 5-of-5 shooting) to explode for 20 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high six assists in the win over Westchester. That brings his season averages to 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game on 70 percent shooting. Again, you can talk about how many dunks he has, but Jones is shooting 80 percent on shots inside eight feet. By comparison, the G League average on shots from that range is 57 percent, and Jones’ mark inside eight feet last year in the G League was 64 percent. He’s certainly making strides.

3. Who else has been impressing lately?

Georges Niang continues to be a model of consistency for the Sea Dubs, going for 22 points, six rebounds and nine assists on Friday night before posting a 19-5-5 in those categories in the win over Westchester. Now averaging 18.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game on the season, Niang has scored in double figures in 15 straight games. He’s one of the craftiest finishers around the basket you’ll see at the G League level, known for using an effective running hook down the side of the lane or a floater off a Euro-step in traffic.

“I’ve always had to be crafty with the way I finish around the basket, knowing the fact that I’m not the most athletic guy out there,” Niang said after Friday’s loss to Memphis, mentioning that he has modeled his low-post game after guys like Kevin Love and Boris Diaw. “I’ve always worked on crafty ways to get the ball off or get to my right hand and get the ball off. So I think it just comes with timing and watching a lot of film and using what God gave you.”

4. What's next?

The schedule has slowed down a bit, as Santa Cruz is in the midst of a 13-day stretch in which it only plays two games. Terrence Jones will make his Sea Dubs debut Friday against a Reno Bighorns team that could have any assortment of Georgios Papagiannis, Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere on assignment from the Sacramento Kings, so you never know what you’re going to get with the ‘Horns.

That game will be in Reno, and Santa Cruz will next play at home the day after Christmas against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a team that is as loaded (if not more loaded) than the Sea Dubs. RGV is always a who’s-who of talent, and this year is no different – the Vipers have played 11 guys this year who are either currently on an NBA contract, have NBA regular season experience or were drafted by an NBA team. The most notable name for Warriors fans is former Golden Stater Briante Weber, who is currently on a two-way contract with the Rockets and Snakes, while the most accomplished NBA guy is Tony Wroten, who once averaged 16 points per game in 30 contests with the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2014-15 season. There will be plenty of talent to go around the Kaiser Permanente Arena floor on Dec. 26, so if you have the opportunity, you’ll want to make your way down to Surf City for that one.

And with Golden State having an open date on the 26th, it looks like you’re free that night.

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