(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Brandin Podziemski: The Mindset of a Rising Star

Warriors’ Rising Star Reflects on First Major NBA Accolade and Desire for Many More

Versatile combo guard Brandin Podziemski will represent the Warriors in the 2024 NBA Rising Stars Game, the franchise's fifth representative in the last five years. Podziemski has played in 47 games with 14 starts, posting averages of 9.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He also has the highest plus-minus of any Warrior this season (+168). Priding himself on being a well-rounded player, he ranks top-five among rookies in double-doubles (fourth, six double-doubles) and is the only rookie this season with 14 assists and zero turnovers in a game.

What stood out about Podziemski early was what his peers described as an 'irrational confidence' that he came with from Day 1. The rookie shared the root of his confidence — trusting the work he put in.

“Being in a family where they don’t let me win at anything growing up and being so competitive, that's where it stems from," Podziemski said. "The confidence of knowing what you put into it and trusting that and not always looking at the output of results."

Brandin Podziemski's Historic Double-Double Streak

Podziemski believes his self-confidence gives him a mental edge over his opponents and he can easily sense when a player is confident on the court. As a rookie, playing alongside multiple Hall-of-Famers on a veteran team, Podziemski believed he belonged and earned the trust of the players and coaches.

"A big key for me was not being starstruck," Podziemski said. "A lot of people, when you’re surrounded by greatness, you are in awe that you’re on the court with them and forget to play basketball. I go out there and do the little things to take the weight off their shoulders. It’s just about making the right play.”

As a combo guard with a lot of floor general playmaking responsibilities, Podziemski got to learn from two of the greatest ever to play the position — Chris Paul and his favorite player, Stephen Curry.

“It’s been a big advantage,” Podziemski said on playing with his favorite player, Stephen Curry. “We’re somewhat similar, but we play so different. To be able to steal things, mental things that he does to add to my repertoire will suit me well in the long run."

In two of the most notable games of Podziemski's young career, Curry had the opportunity to watch and support the rookie from the sideline as he shined as the lead guard.

The rookie was thrust into the spotlight on the In-Season Tournament stage against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 14. Podziemski responded with his first-ever game in double-figures, scoring a team-high 23 points on 9-for-18 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists in 39 minutes.

In-Season Tournament Highlights: Timberwolves 104 - Warriors 101 | 11/14/23

“When coach calls you in two minutes into the game, my mindset was why not make something happen,” Podziemski said. “It’s an opportunity, take full advantage of it.”

His favorite game as a pro was his return to his hometown, facing the Bucks in Milwaukee on Jan. 13.

“My favorite game so far was in Milwaukee," Podziemski said. "Going home and playing well, getting to play in front of a couple hundred people that I grew up with.”

Podziemski again tied a then career-high with 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for the second 20-10 game of his career. He threw down two monster dunks and hit multiple size-up 3-pointers. It was truly a full-circle moment for the rising star, who had to watch his college homecoming game from the sidelines.

Golden State Warriors Highlights vs. Milwaukee Bucks

“After playing for Illinois and coming back to Milwaukee to play Marquette and not getting in, with all those people there to see me play, it was salt in the wound for me," Podziemski said. "Coming back two years later and getting to play, playing well, was special.”

He believes he was virtually the same player from his freshman year at Illinois, where he played just 16 games with zero starts and his sophomore campaign at Santa Clara, where he started in all 32 games, averaging 19.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.

“I was pretty much the same player at Illinois that I was at Santa Clara, it was a matter of opportunity," Podziemski said. "There are a lot of great hoopers out there that just don’t get the opportunity.”

Speaking of opportunity, Podziemski had the chance to prove his doubters wrong by being a positive impact player on the defensive end of the floor at the NBA level.

“My on-ball defense has been much better than people anticipated," Podziemski said. "When I start with Klay [Thompson], Steph [Curry], Jonathan [Kuminga] and Dray [Green], they usually put me on the best guard and Jonathan on the best wing and go from there.”

Brandin Podziemski gets it to go at the buzzer

Podziemski has been one of the league's best at drawing charges and credits his basketball IQ and team defensive instincts for his stellar anticipation.

“There are only so many patterns that you can run on the basketball court," Podziemski said. "Once you see player and team tendencies, it makes the game really simple.”

Specifically, the rookie highlighted Draymond Green and Gary Payton II for teaching him some of those under-the-radar details of defense.

When asked to give himself an overall grade for the season, Podziemski settled on a B or B+. He believes the Rising Stars selection is a stamp of approval for his impact thus far but has his eyes set on far bigger accolades.

“I want to be an All-Star, a Hall-of-Fame type player," Podziemski said. "The Rising Stars game is the first step in that direction, but I’m eager to get further on.”

Podziemski Buzzer-Beating Splash

As far as the remainder of this season goes, Podziemski desires to make the All-Rookie First Team and show all the GMs who passed on him that they "messed up." He also wants to contribute to team success, make a deep playoff run and win a championship to cap his rookie campaign.

Lofty aspirations, sure. But Podziemski’s irrational confidence, attention to detail, work ethic, unselfishness and talent may help the almost 21-year-old make even bigger waves in the days, weeks and months ahead.