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Santa Cruz Weekly Write-Up: Sea Dubs Head to Oracle on Sunday
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 Sea Dubs certainly would have liked to get their six-game homestand off to a better start than by losing a couple of close contests to Reno and Iowa on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, but they were able to take out their frustrations on a depleted Agua Caliente squad Saturday night to the tune of a 118-84 pummeling. That leaves Santa Cruz at 17-13 with three more home games remaining on the homestand and one game out of first in the Pacific Division.
Despite being that close to the top of the division, the Sea Dubs would be the first team left out of the Western Conference playoffs if they were to start today. It is a jumbled mess at the top of the Western Conference, as just one and a half games separate the best record (RGV's 18-11 mark) from the seventh-place Sea Dubs (top six make it).
That's what made Friday's 116-113 loss to the Iowa Wolves so heartbreaking. The Sea Dubs had a 16-point lead in the third quarter before letting it slip down the stretch, with Iowa taking the lead with 17.5 seconds left when the referees awarded the Wolves a technical free throw for a mix-up in communication on a timeout. Combine that loss with the two losses to South Bay where the Sea Dubs blew 19 and 20-point leads, and Santa Cruz is that close to having the best record in the Western Conference. Oh well, still plenty of time to rectify that.
2. How are the guys on the Golden State roster doing?
Welcome to professional basketball, Chris Boucher. The Golden State two-way forward made his debut Wednesday against Reno and made an instant impact, going for 11 points, two rebounds and three blocks in just 15 minutes of action, hitting a right-wing three and executing a nice runner off a shot-fake from 3-point territory (same spot he hit the three a couple of possessions back). Held out of back-to-backs for the moment, Boucher did not play against Iowa on Friday but returned Saturday to go for nine points, five rebounds and a block in another 15 minutes. His length on the defensive end can really make things tough for opponents and can help him make up for defensive mix-ups as he really gets to learn the Golden State system in the G League. He plays with a lot of passion and hasn't been afraid to let others know when he makes a good play. He has been a joy to watch.
After Wednesday's loss to Reno, Quinn Cook stated that he felt like he wasn't being aggressive enough (he was coming off a 26-point, nine-assist game, just so you know what kind of standard Quinn holds himself to), and was seen getting up shots after the game, hoping to wash a 2-for-10 3-point performance out of his mouth. The extra shooting worked – Cook went off for 76 points over the next two games, including a Santa Cruz 2017-18 single-game high 43 against Iowa, and hit 10 of his 17 3-point attempts in those two games. He was also uber efficient with the basketball, dishing out 19 assists against just two turnovers in the Friday and Saturday games against Iowa and Agua Caliente combined. He's still more than on pace for the first 50-40-90 season in G League history, as his shooting splits are currently at .515/.431/.944.
3. Who else has been impressing lately?
In my opinion, and I know it's not just my opinion having overheard some chatter at the G League Showcase, but Damion Lee is a legitimate NBA prospect. He is mired in a pretty big shooting slump right now, having hit just seven of his last 44 3-point attempts, but he makes an impact in so many other ways. He's a very good off-ball cutter and doesn't need to dominate the rock to make his presence felt. Even with his outside shot not falling at the rate he'd like it to in recent games, Lee scored 21 points against Iowa and backed that up with 16 against Agua Caliente. He can also grab rebounds in bunches and is averaging more than seven rebounds per game over his last seven contests. And as for his shooting, well, he shot 47 percent from 3-point territory in 16 games with the Maine Red Claws last year before tearing his ACL, so it's only a matter of time before he starts to fill it up again from distance.
Also, shout out to Winston Shepard, who made his first career G League start on Saturday and filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three steals. The play-making forward has fit in nicely with the Sea Dubs after joining the team mid-season, coming over in a trade from RGV in December. I'm no scout so don't take my word for it, but in my eyes, he's a consistent jump shot and a Terrence Jones call-up (so he can get more burn to show what he can do) away from being a serious NBA prospect. I wouldn't say he gets an NBA look this year, but if he finishes out this season strong and plays well in Summer League in July, he could very well be coming to an NBA training camp in September.
Speaking of Terrence Jones, it will be good to have him back in the fold, as he missed the last couple of games to attend to a family matter.
4. What's next?
Before the big game at Oracle against the Austin Spurs on Sunday, the Sea Dubs have to match wits with the Oklahoma City Blue Thursday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena. The Blue eliminated the Sea Dubs in the playoffs last year, so a little get-back might be on the minds of Damian Jones, Alex Hamilton and James Southerland (2016-17 Santa Cruz Warriors). Dakari Johnson is currently assigned from the Thunder, so if he shows up to the KPA, the Sea Dubs will have their hands full down low with a guy who absolutely dominated them last season.
But yeah, the headliner is Sunday against Austin at Oracle. Tickets are still available, so swoop some up and make your way to Oakland to check out some current and future NBA players, not to mention being able to see a pivotal game in the playoff picture. And oh yeah, that KD bobblehead looks pretty sweet too...