New Warriors Ready to “Start Working Hard and Competing”
Warriors’ 2020 Draftees and Newly Acquired Dubs Ready to to Hit the Hardwood
The Warriors have five new additions to the roster heading into training camp in the form of veterans Kelly Oubre Jr., Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore, as well as 2020 draft picks James Wiseman and Nico Mannion. The third draftee of the 2020 season, 51st overall pick Justinian Jessup, will spend the next season playing professionally in Australia with the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League (NBL).
Though coming to the Warriors through different means, each of them have expressed their desire to hit the hardwood and put their talents on display for the squad and Dub Nation.
Kelly Oubre Jr.
Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. was recently acquired by the Warriors in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder; he was originally traded to the Thunder by the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 16. Last season with the Suns he averaged career-highs of 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds to go along with 1.5 assists and 1.27 steals in 34.5 minutes per game.
After being traded twice during the offseason, Oubre Jr. was feeling good about finding a home with Golden State, as he told media during his introductory press conference that when heard the news “I was super excited, man.”
“This is a great opportunity,” continued the 24-year-old, “a great scene, a great organization with already a culture set that I can just seamlessly come and fit in so it was just a blessing.”
Oubre Jr. has wasted no time getting accustomed with his new homes, both in the Bay Area and at the Warriors practice facility at Chase Center: “My first couple days have just been really exciting, to see to city, to come in and get some work in with the staff and on the court.”
And though not necessarily “new” to the team, guard/forward Kent Bazemore expressed his delight in getting back to work with the Dubs.
Bazemore originally joined the Warriors as a free agent in the summer of 2012 where he spent his rookie and part of his sophomore season with the squad. He is now returning to the team for the 2020-21 season after recently signing a contract.
“I’m really grateful to be back. Really, really excited to be back,” said Bazemore when he recently met with media. “Golden State has always been a part of my DNA as a basketball player.”
And when it comes to what the eight-year veteran will bring to the court, Bazemore already knows what roles he wants to fill and what his goals for the team are.
“I’m going to bring the energy,” he said. “Defense is where I hang my hat, ‘shut that water off’ as they say.”
“Get some rebounds, get some steals, get some blocks… and smile my way back into the playoffs,” said Bazemore.
Guard Brad Wanamaker’s path to the NBA has taken a different route than most. After going unselected in the 2011 NBA Draft, he spent seven seasons playing overseas in Italy, France, Germany and Turkey.
While abroad, he was named Germany’s BBL Season MVP, BBL Finals MVP and BBL Offensive Player of the Year for the 2015-16 season with Brose Baskets Bamberg, and in 2018 earned Turkish BSL League Finals MVP honors in leading Fenerbahçe to the Turkish championship. He was later signed as a free agent by the Boston Celtics where he played the last two NBA seasons.
As he noted during his first appearance with media as a Warrior, the grind of playing internationally gave him “the mindset of bringing it every day,” as Wanamaker said.
“I carry that over to the NBA in which I play every day as if my job is in jeopardy,” continued the guard. “I keep that mindset with me to this day. Just going out there, grinding, and working hard just trying to be the best me out there on the floor.”
And when it comes to playing in style like that of Head Coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, Wanamaker feels ready to get started: “I definitely see myself fitting into the system and I’m excited to get going.”
James Wiseman came to the squad as the second overall pick of this summer’s NBA Draft. At 19 years of age, and younger than fellow draftee Nico Mannion who was born 17 days prior to Wiseman, the rookie center will be the youngest Warrior on the roster when the season tips off.
Despite being young and having just played three game of collegiate basketball due to a NCAA conflict, Wiseman’s past year has been focused on getting ready for NBA-level basketball.
“My pre-draft process was super long. Just playing a lot of pickup games and stuff like that, getting experience from pro players,” said the rookie. During his introductory press conference, Wiseman expanded on that, saying he had faced NBA veterans including John Wall, Michael Beasley, Jahlil Okafor and D'Angelo Russell.
If his commitment to preparing for the NBA was not evident from the level of competition in his pickup games, Wiseman assured Dub Nation during his radio interview he is ready to hit the ground running: “I’m ready to take my work ethic to a whole other level, just learn and adapt and learn as much as possible and just grow as a player.”
He will have an NBA Champion as one of his tutors in frontcourt-mate Draymond Green. The vocal leader of the Warriors on defense has already connected with the young center.
“After I got drafted,” recounted Wiseman, “Draymond texted me instantly and just told me ‘as soon as you get drafted enjoy this time with your family. But get ready to get back to work, ready to get the chemistry to work, and work hard together.’”
Guard Nico Mannion was selected 48th overall by the Warriors in the 2020 NBA Draft. Besides bringing a unique mix of both collegiate and international experience to the Dubs, Nico follows in the footsteps of his father, Pace, who also played in the NBA. Pace played six seasons in the league and, like his son, was selected by the Dubs back in the 1983 draft.
Though Nico continues a family tradition of joining the Warriors, the 19-year-old feels that the team was a fitting landing spot for his development as well. As he said in an interview recently: “Coming to a spot like this with Steve Kerr, who payed point guard, along with Steph Curry who is one of the greatest point guards of all time, just being able to learn from them is a huge thing for me.”
“I’m really excited to just get in there, learn and start working hard and competing,” said Mannion.
Justinian Jessup, the 51st overall selection of the 2020 NBA Draft, will not be with the team for his first year as he signed a “Next Stars” contract with the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia for the 2020-21 season. The contract allowed Jessup the opportunity to play professionally overseas while maintaining his eligibility for this past draft.
Though on the other side of the planet, Jessup will continue to work on his game while playing amongst other professional basketball players. “Being over here (in Australia),” said the guard, “I know (the Warriors are) still going to keep an eye on me, on my development and stuff. I think it’s a great opportunity to acclimate to the professional level… Just being able to continue to add to my body, work on my game, and just play.”
The 22-year-old has a game plan for his time in Australia too: “What I just want to work on is continuing to add strength and lateral quickness… (and) becoming more comfortable with the ball in my hands… Just making sure my shooting is at the best possible level, improving my right hand, getting to the paint and finishing.”
It is clear from what they have said that the Warriors are ready to hit the hardwood and get ready for the 2020-21 season.
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