(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
Beachcombings: Big Week Ahead for the Sea Dubs
By Kevin Danna
What's going on with the Santa Cruz Warriors? Sea Dubs broadcaster Kevin Danna provides an insider's look at the team.
1. Weekend Split with Texas
For the first time since the 2016-17 season, the Sea Dubs played a home back-to-back against the same opponent, earning the split with the Texas Legends over the weekend (these used to be a lot more common in the G League when there were fewer teams).
The Sea Dubs lost a heartbreaker on Friday night, erasing an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to take a late lead before falling 104-102 on a couple of free throws from Dallas Mavericks two-way guard Daryl Macon with 8.7 seconds remaining. Saturday’s game figured to be as tough or even tougher with Michael Gbinije out with a neck contusion and the Sea Dubs down to nine healthy bodies, but Santa Cruz showed some serious fight and blew out the Legends 121-89, using a 40-20 second-quarter advantage to take a 22-point lead at halftime and never looking back.
The Sea Dubs head into this week of play with a 9-2 record, which is tied for the second-best record in the G League. Just as important, the guys are three and a half games clear of the Stockton Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.
2. Trayvon Palmer Goes to Work in First Career Start
Dub Nation, meet Trayvon Palmer- 6’6 swingman from Milwaukee (yes, he is familiar with Kevon Looney from his AAU days as competitors and was AAU teammates of former Sea Dub Najeal Young). Three-year player at Chicago State after a year at the famed North Dakota College of Science. Second-year pro after spending last year playing in the British Basketball League. Bigtime contributor in Saturday’s smashing of Texas.
Palmer, who made the training-camp roster as a tryout player and then got cut before the start of the regular season, made his way back on to the squad when Juan Toscano-Anderson was called into national team duties with Mexico for the latest round of FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. After coming off the bench for his first career G League game Friday, Palmer was pushed into a starting role on Saturday with Gbinije hurt.
All he did was post a double-double, chipping in with 17 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two steals and two blocks in a team-high 39 minutes of work. He was also a +30, which was second best on the Sea Dubs behind only Kendrick Nunn’s +31.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster, but I put in a lot of work, so I already had the confidence going in,” said Palmer, who was told right before the game he was going to start. “Just to be able to showcase what you can do, come in and help the guys. They got off to a great start.”
With Toscano-Anderson set to return for Wednesday’s game against Sioux Falls, it will be interesting to see Palmer’s future with the team since the Warriors will not have an open roster slot when Juan gets back, but at the very least, Palmer showed he is more than a capable G League player. During halftime of Friday’s game, Santa Cruz Warriors GM Kent Lacob told Drew Shiller and myself that he really liked Palmer and wanted to keep him, but the numbers game that is training camp roster cuts necessitated the waiving. The Sea Dubs told him at the end of training camp that they might need his services at some point in the regular season; they did, and he came through in a major way when Santa Cruz needed it most.
The best-case scenario for all involved would be one of the guys getting an NBA call-up to free up a roster spot for Palmer, so that’d be cool.
3. Will Cherry is Back and Producing
Oakland native (McClymonds in the building!) and Santa Cruz point guard Will Cherry recently returned to the lineup after missing three games with a back injury and has looked as good as he has all season, nearly missing out on a triple-double on Saturday (10 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) one game after contributing 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. His shooting numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be right now (33 percent from the floor, 12 percent from beyond the arc), but he did shoot 45 percent from the field and 33 percent from three last season in Croatia and is currently shooting 92 percent from the foul line, so he is certainly capable of getting those percentages up.
“I’ve been feeling good in practice,” Cherry said before a recent game. “The back is good, so I’m ready to get out here.”
4. Marcus Derrickson Lights it up in Surf City … Then Drills a 3 in Atlanta
It was great to see Golden State Warriors two-way forward Marcus Derrickson hit a late 3-pointer in the Dubs’ 128-111 win over the Atlanta Hawks Monday night. It was the culmination of a very solid weekend in Surf City for Derrickson, as the rookie out of Georgetown posted back-to-back double-doubles with 22 points and 11 rebounds on Friday before going for 13 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday, all the while shooting 58 percent from the floor (14-of-24) and 64 percent from downtown (7-of-11) over the two games.
5. Big Week Ahead for Santa Cruz
A couple of days of practice in tow, the Sea Dubs are getting ready to play three games in four days starting with Wednesday night’s contest against the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the 2016 NBA G League champs and owners of the best record in the league at 10-2. The Skyforce roster is a who’s-who of fringe NBA guys and dudes who have killed it in the G. The most familiar face to Dub Nation would probably be Briante Weber, the three-year NBA veteran who played in seven games with Golden State during the 2016-17 season.
Santa Cruz will then head South to take on a South Bay Lakers team Friday night that has won four straight after a 2-7 start before returning home to take on the 3-point trigger-happy Rio Grande Valley Vipers Saturday night (the Snakes attempted 54 3-pointers on Monday… and only made 12 in a 40-point loss to the Utah Jazz-heavy Salt Lake City Stars).
While it figures to be a tough weekend, the good news is that Santa Cruz is about to get a lot of reinforcements – Damion Lee is slated to return from an extended stint with Golden State, while Antonius Cleveland is expected return from a right leg injury and Juan Toscano-Anderson should be back in town as mentioned earlier.
Thinking about coming down to The Cruz Wednesday night for the Sioux Falls game? Maybe a Steph Curry championship bobblehead giveaway will help entice you (not to mention watching two of the best teams in the G League go head-to-head). If you can’t make it over the hill (if you’re not in the Santa Cruz area), then you can watch Wednesday’s game on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus and Saturday’s game on NBC Sports Bay Area (Friday’s road contest can be viewed on Facebook Live).